Federal Court Strikes Down Oklahoma's Discriminatory "Save Our State" Amendment Barring "Sharia Law" From Courts

 A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that an Oklahoma Law barring courts from considering "Sharia Law" violates the FIrst Amendment. The ACLU championed the decision as a victory for Muslims' rights to free speech and religious choice. 

From the ACLU:

Oklahoma’s proposed “Save Our State Amendment” would have changed the state constitution to bar state courts from considering so-called “Sharia Law” in making decisions. The amendment defined “Sharia Law” broadly as Islamic law based on the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed.If implemented, the amendment would have rendered Oklahoma’s Muslims second-class citizens before the state courts. For example, it could have prevented courts from probating a will that incorporated or even mentioned the religious beliefs of the deceased. It also could have inhibited Muslims from forming enforceable contracts in accordance with their religious beliefs, even while those of other faiths could. And it would have effectively denied Muslims the ability to bring suit in state court to remedy violations of their religious freedom rights.

The amendment also went after international law:

In addition to blatantly discriminating against Muslims, the amendment also would have banned state courts from applying or considering “international law.” Not only would this have violated the Constitution, but it also would have undermined courts’ abilities to interpret laws and treaties relating global business issues and international human rights.  And it could have blocked state courts from recognizing or ruling on issues relating to international marriages and adoptions.

The court said it could not even identify the supposed Sharia threat the law targeted:

In its ruling, the appeals court flatly rejected the State’s claim that the law was necessary to protect against the courts’ improper application of Sharia law. The court affirmed that the so-called “Sharia threat” identified by the State is a myth. The court wrote: “Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted, that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma.”

Read more about the proposed amendment and court ruling from the ACLU

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at January 10, 2012, 11:00am

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