On election night last Tuesday, 70 percent of Oklahomans voted in favor of a measure known as Save Our State that blocks judges from considering Islamic or international law when issuing a court ruling. Specifically, the amendment declares “the legal precepts of other nations or cultures” off-limits to Oklahoma courts, and that “the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.”
Muneer Awad, director of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed a lawsuit last week in response, asking the federal district court to block the referendum as it violates Muslims’ First Amendment rights. Yesterday, Mr. Awad won his temporary restraining order when U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange suspended the measure until a hearing on November 22, when she will listen to arguments and make a decision.
Although those opposed to the amendment call it a scare tactic and fear mongering, it was created for good reason. In 2009, a New Jersey court refused to grant a women a restraining order against her ex-husband who had harassed and sexually assaulted her because he had behaved according to his Muslim beliefs. While that ruling was later overturned, the case proves it’s reasonable to assume that U.S. judges may feel compelled to take Sharia law into consideration.
Indeed, this is currently happening in the UK – a country that struggles to incorporate its Muslim population. A study last year found that at least 85 Sharia courts are operating in Britain, five of which are run by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal and whose rulings are binding and enforced through the state courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act.
Enacting a dual legal system in any country is a dangerous measure and slippery slope that can only lead to internal chaos. The Oklahoma amendment is correct in stating that United States law must always remain supreme and above any religious law. Americans should accept Oklahoma’s new measure, that is, if they still desire to protect their liberties and rights upheld by the current law of the land.