Federal judge permanently blocks Oklahoma amendment banning Islamic law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma [official website] on Thursday permanently blocked [order, PDF] an Oklahoma amendment banning courts from using international or Islamic law. The constitutional amendment [SQ 755, PDF] would have prevented Oklahoma courts from "look[ing] to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures," requiring them only to look to legal precedents of other states for guidance, provided that state does not use Islamic law. The case was brought [JURIST report] by Muneer Awad, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website], who argued that the amendment stigmatized his religion. Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange found that the amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by Oklahoma voters, violated the Establishment Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the First Amendment and asserted that the state failed to prove a compelling interest for an amendment that only singled out one religion.

In 2010 Miles-LeGrange temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the amendment, preventing the measure from taking effect until a preliminary injunction scheduled for late November. Just days after the preliminary injunction, Miles-LeGrange extended the injunction [JURIST report] stating that she needed more time [KOCO report] to deal with the issue. The amendment was sponsored by state Representative Rex Duncan, who described it as a preemptive strike [Daily Mail report] against the use of Islamic law in Oklahoma that would undermine [MSNBC report, video] Judeo-Christian principles on which he says the US is founded. Efforts to ban the consideration of Islamic law have also been approved [JURIST report] in other states including Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana.

 

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