In the mid-term election, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment, “State Question 755″, to their state constitution that would prohibit state courts from considering Sharia law. This has raised a lot of concerns over infringement on the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. On November 9th, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order blocking certification of the new law pending a ruling by a federal court on a constitutional challenge by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A little talked about issue that raises extremely serious sovereignty concerns is the wording of the Oklahoma measure that prohibits state courts from considering, not only Sharia law, but also the law of other “countries, states, and tribes.” Courts have traditionally given tribal courts broad jurisdiction and resisted incursion because of the risk of violating treaties between the U.S. and what are considered to be sovereign nations. These concerns militate decisively in favor of striking down the Oklahoma law.

Editors Note:  All comments on Amicus are screened by a blog editor to filter out spam, but the CR-CL emphatically supports free expression and open discussion. That’s why, although the comments below make some irrelevant personal and offensive attacks, we have attempted to respond to any legitimate questions raised. We encourage inquiring minds and those better informed than we are to continue the conversation.

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17 Comments

  1. tiv says:

    You call yourselves “Harvard” educated?

    All the law does, quite simply, is restrict the judge from saying or expressing that his/her decision is based on some international, cultural, or faith-based law other then constitutional or state law.

    How freaking simple is that?

    You hairsplitters and hand wringers can twist yourselves into knots over this, but it’s very simple.

    Get over yourselves. Move on.

    • CRCL says:

      Tiv- I’m not sure I understand what exactly you disagree with in the above post. Are you taking a “realist” perspective that the new OK state law forbids judges from explicitly relying on law other than state or constitutional, but you think that judges will do so regardless- therefore only technically complying with the law? I refer you to the actual text of State Question 755, which explicitly forbids even consideration of international or sharia law, then goes on to define international law as including tribal law.

      If judges are not allowed, by law, to “consider” tribal law- how is this not a violation of treaties between the U.S. and Native American tribes?

      Relevant text:

      “This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
      International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes.”

      Full text of State Question 755 here:
      http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Oklahoma_%22Sharia_Law_Amendment%22,_State_Question_755_(2010)#Text_of_measure

  2. M.PRIOR says:

    IF ANY GROUP TAKES THE OATH OF CITIZENSHIP
    THEY ABIDE BY THAT COUNTRIES LAWS.IF THAT GROUP SEEKS TO EXPLOIT LOOP-HOLES AND
    DECEPTIVELY UNDERMINE THE LAW,THEY ARE TRAITORS TO THEIR HOST AND SHOULD BE DEPORTED.

    • CRCL says:

      “M.Prior”- did you know that rabbinical courts exist all over the U.S. to serve the Orthodox Jewish community? They are called Beth Din: http://www.bethdin.org/

      We also have binding arbitration in the United States, which allows individuals and corporations to resolve disputes without going through the formal legal system.

      Do these systems-within-a-system also undermine our country’s laws? If so, why is Sharia law singled out by State Question 755?

  3. SHARIA_IS_SHITAKE says:

    THE ANSWER IS NO, BECAUSE SHARIA IS A MILITARY AND POLITICAL “SYSTEM” THAT SEEKS TO CONTROL EVERY FACET OF THE INDIVIDUAL’S LIFE– IT IS NOT JUST A “LAW” IT IS A “SYSTEM” THAT IS SEDITIOUS IN NATURE. IT’S SOLE PURPOSE IS TO BULLY PEOPLE AND FORCE THEM TO BECOME A MUSLIM!

    TRIBAL TREATIES DO NOT BULLY PEOPLE AND FORCE THEM TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBE.

    • CRCL says:

      “Sharia”- What is your factual basis for making these assertions?

      Encyclopedia Britannica defines Sharia law as “a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief… a divinely ordained path of conduct” which does little to distinguish it from rabbinical courts serving Orthodox Jews.

      http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/538793/Shariah

      There are many more authoritative guides to understanding Sharia law for those with an interest in learning the facts, but here is the wiki link which provides a very nuanced view: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

  4. SHARIA_IS_SHITAKE says:

    GOOGLE: TOP TEN REASONS SHARIA IS BAD FOR ALL SOCIETIES

    GOOGLE: CREEPING SHARIA
    YOUTUBE SEARCH: EX MUSLIM AND EX TERRORIST

    …STUDY ISLAM…IT IS EVIL…AND IS IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH THE FIRST AMENDMENT ITSELF.

    ISLAM IS THE MOST INTOLERANT “SYSTEM” ON THE PLANET AND DOES NOT ALLOW FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION, OR FREEDOM OF SPEECH, WHICH IS VIOLATING THE FIRST AMENDMENT IN AND OF ITSELF!

    • CRCL says:

      “Sharia”- I believe you are conflating the Islamic religion and the corresponding religious law with Islamist governments and oppressive regimes using Islam as a tool.

  5. Noah Kaplan says:

    Some interesting points from the New York Times editorial board: Would courts be able to mention the Bible in a ruling, or does this specifically single out the Koran as a violation? Would wills or contracts drawn up under religious law be thrown out of courts? The most important point is that this is a solution without a problem, pure demagoguery and fear-mongering to drive conservative voters to the polls. Hopefully the multitude of first amendment issues created by this law are dealt with by the courts before votes like this become common practice in other states.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/opinion/29mon1.html?_r=1&hp

    • Roger Molett says:

      I just attended a legal conference of law of succession in Abu Dhabi. Noah points to wills in his post, and here is where the law is very troubling to me. It is very likely that decedents do from to time write that they want their assets distributed in accordance with Sharia law, as here I advise expatriates to specifically specifiy that they want their home country laws to prevail in their wills. It is a person’s right to follow his religion or any other beliefs or desires in asset allocation. I don’t agree with all of the terms of Sharia allocation, but it is systematic and one can argue that it is just. If this law stands, then a court would be unable to consider the last wishes of a decedent.

      • Noah Kaplan says:

        I agree completely. There is no reason why an otherwise legal asset allocation designated in a will should be disregarded solely because it is based on Sharia law. This is the only likely area in which Sharia law might actually end up in an American court, and it’s an area in which current law settles the issue quickly and efficiently. If the exact same asset allocation without mention of Sharia law would be legal, then asking courts to set aside a will because it does mention Sharia is only creating an unnecessary burden on courts for purely prejudiced reasons.

  6. Ukulelemike says:

    To blithely ignore what Islam is, and just regard it as merely a benign religion that seeks to have its laws and ways for its own people, like the tribal and Jewish laws, is to ignore history, both ancient and recent. Islam has clearly declared its intention of placing the world under it’s laws, to force the world to follow their ways. It isn’t just a few radicals trying to hijack an otherwise peaceful religion-their leaders in every country, including this one, have clearly and openly made their case to rule the world under Sharia. To accept it here, in any way, will be the end of this country as we have known it, and not in a good way. We are fools to consider it. Open your eyes, folks!

  7. Ukulelemike says:

    Are you interested in your wives and daughters having forced clitoridectomies performed on them? This is part of Sharia law, friends. Women in burkas is one of the least things they do to women in Sharia-ruled nations.

    • CRCL says:

      I’m not sure how you can speak of what “Islam” wants as if it’s a single entity, ignoring the diversity within the religion. Sufis, shia, and sunnis are examples. As well, with every religion, as varying levels of orthodoxy.

      As for FGM- the Oklahoma law isn’t necessary to prevent this horror as current law already outlaws the practice of mutilating women and Muslims living in the United States are citizens to whom all of the existing laws apply. Unlike the Native Americans tribes, who are sovereign nations (addressed above).

      What U.S. law does not allow is the enactment of a law targeted at a single group without a rational relation to a legitimate purpose. Expressing disagreement with practicing muslims who do value the opinions rendered by their religious authorities is not a legitimate purpose.

  8. Sumair says:

    Stop “The Great Anti-Sharia Freakout” by signing the petition at MoveOn.org . If you’d like to learn more before signing, join the LinkedIn discussion .

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