U.S. Court Rules Oklahoma Amendment Unconstitutional
A federal appeals court strikes down a proposed amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution. The measure would have barred judges in the state from considering Sharia or international law when deciding cases…
In 2010, Oklahoma voters overwhelming approved the amendment, by a count of nearly 71% to 29%. Just two days later, Muneer Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations filed a legal challenge, arguing it singled out Muslims. Today, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
“The court confronted it, and it acknowledged that although voting rights are a public interest, it is a greater public interest to prevent the violation of the constitution,” said Awad.
In its decision, the Court wrote the amendment condemns Awad’s religion and could result in poor treatment for him. Ryan Marou is the National Security Adviser for the Christian Action Network, an advocacy group.
“I don’t see what’s unconstitutional about wanting to ban foreign law from being used to decide court rulings. And that’s exactly what Sharia law is, it’s a foreign based system.”
Marou says if Muslims want to practice Sharia law in the privacy of their own home, they can do that.
“But then there are others who wish to introduce it into the court system, to develop a power law court system similar to what you see in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe and that’s where it starts clashing with the Constitution.”
Going back to 2010, the legislative sponsors of the measure said they wanted to pre-emptively strike against any Muslim influence in the court system. That’s not the motivation that Awad sees.
“We can stop politicians from using divisive strategies such as demonizing and marginalizing Muslims just so they can score some points at the ballot box.”
Awad says he wants to turn this into a teaching moment, a chance to get his message out.
“So I think the good that comes out of this is helping Americans understand what Islam means to American Muslims. Not to basically submit to this fear mongering, campaigning and political strategies of these politicians that are pushing these amendments.”
The lawsuit now returns to the US District Court in Oklahoma City, to decide whether the temporary stay should become a permanent one.
Read the full decision.