Judge issues permanent injunction on Oklahoma Sharia law ban

By Bill Mears | CNN.com

Washington (CNN) – A federal judge in Oklahoma has issued an order putting on hold the certification of a ballot measure that forbids state courts from considering or using international laws, as well as Sharia, or Islamic law. That permanent injunction will allow the judge more time to consider the constitutional issues raised by State Question 755, which was approved by voters earlier this month.

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange had earlier issued a temporary restraining order in favor of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which had sued to nullify the law completely.

“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out,” wrote the judge in Monday’s order, “the court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights.”

The language of her 15-page order indicated Miles-LaGrange has initial doubts about the constitutionality of the ballot measure. She said the case goes “to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country’s history, the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.”

The amendment would require Oklahoma courts to “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and “forbids courts from considering or using” either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, is shown Monday in his office on NW 23 in Oklahoma City. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

In bringing suit, CAIR argued that the amendment violates both the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. The group’s local leader Muneer Awad has said the amendment passed under a campaign of fear and misinformation about Islam.

State Question 755, also known as the “Save Our State” measure was approved by a 7-3 ratio. It was sponsored by State Reps. Rex Duncan and Anthony Sykes, both Republicans.

“The fact that Sharia law was even considered anywhere in the United States is enough for me” to sign on, Sykes told CNN. “It should scare anyone that any judge in America would consider using that as precedent.”

Sykes said his concern was compounded by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s comments during her confirmation hearings in June that she would be willing to consider international law when considering cases before the court.

As written on the ballot, the measure states it would amend a state constitution section dealing with the state courts, making them “rely on federal and state law” when deciding cases, forbidding them “from considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.”

The ballot then briefly described international law, which “deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes,” and Sharia, which is “based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.”

“Shall the proposal be approved?” the ballot read, instructing voters to respond ‘yes’ if they’re for the proposal and ‘no’ if they’re against it.

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