Oklahoma Voters Ban Use of Islamic and International Law in State Court Decisions; CAIR Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality

November 2010 – Oklahoma, U.S.
Joseph Hepworth

Bulletin 9 November 2010:  “A federal judge blocked Oklahoma officials Monday from implementing a voter-approved referendum that singles out Islamic religious law, or Sharia, as a threat to the state.” (Wall Street Journal online)

On 2 November 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 755, an amendment to the Oklahoma State Constitution banning the use of Islamic or international law in state court decisions. On 4 November the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of amendment. In the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, CAIR seeks a preliminary injunction restraining the Oklahoma State Board of Elections from certifying the election results. CAIR argues that the amendment violates the Non-Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the amendment has a sectarian purpose (preserving Oklahoma’s Judeo-Christian legal foundation), it inhibits religion (by condemning the Islamic faith), and it fosters excessive entaglement with religion (by requiring the Courts to take positions on doctrinal matters in determining what is included in Sharia law). CAIR also argues that the Amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment because the amendment’s primary purpose is to supress religious practice and is not narrowly tailored to advance a compelling goverrment interest. CAIR’s memorandum in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction is available here