Muslim group challenges Oklahoma sharia law ban

Council on American-Islamic Relations argues the preemptive law is unconstitutional

Published November 4, 2010 5:42PM (EDT)

Muneer Awad
Muneer Awad

An update on that Oklahoma ballot initiative that (preemptively) bars state courts from considering sharia law (as well as international law): the Council on American-Islamic Relations is announcing a lawsuit challenging the measure, which passed overwhelmingly and amends the state's constitution, as violating the U.S. Constitution.

We don't have the text of the suit yet, but here's a local news report on the challenge:

CNN reports that the Oklahoma measure may conflict with the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. And CAIR seems to be attacking it from several directions:

The Establishment Clause

The First Amendment directs all government bodies to "make no law respecting the establishment of religion." This measure violates that basic principle of American law and governance by specifically targeting one faith and one religious community.

Separation of Powers

Our federal system and our state system is in part governed by the concept of separation of powers. One branch of government cannot restrict what another branch of government can consider in terms of doing its job -- in this case, deciding cases.

Supremacy Clause

International law refers to the conduct of the relationships between sovereign nations. ... International law is, according to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the law of the United States of America.


How will this measure negatively impact Oklahomans of all faiths?

It will prevent Oklahoma courts from implementing international agreements, honoring international arbitrations, honoring major international human rights treaties, honoring marriages and divorces from other countries, and will cost jobs by sending the message that contracts between Oklahoma companies and international partners will not be enforceable. Oklahoma could become the only state in the nation incapable of enforcing international business law.


By Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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