Lawyers for the state of Oklahoma this week appeared before the Tenth Circuit to argue for the state’s Sharia law ban, which was approved by voters in a 2010 ballot initiative, but was blocked by a judge shortly thereafter.
A three-judge panel for the 10th Circuit heard arguments Monday over the ban, and in one exchange a judge questioned why the law would need to mention Sharia at all.
The panel gave no indication how it would rule, but at least one judge, Scott Matheson, asked why the measure was crafted to apply explicitly to just one religion.
“There’s no mention of any other specific law,” Matheson said in the hearing. “We just have Sharia law singled out.”
Oklahoma Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick replied, “The intent here was to exclude Sharia law and international law.”
Matheson asked, “Why is there any need to mention Sharia law,” to which Wyrick answered: “To avoid confusion.”
Micheal Salem, Awad’s ACLU attorney, http://newsok.com/judges-asks-why-oklahomas-law-on-sharia-applies-to-only-one-religion/article/3603557: “This was a pre-emptive strike against a religion they singled out.”
Last November, 70% voters approved the “Save Our State Amendment” to the state constitution that “forbids courts from considering or using international law [and] forbids courts from using or considering Sharia Law.” Muneer Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Oklahoma chapter, sued the Oklahoma Board of Elections shortly thereafter, alleging that the law violates the First Amendment, and that he will “suffer official disapproval of his faith communicated to him by Oklahoma through the document that organizes the state’s existence: the constitution.”
In the same month, U.S. district court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange blocked the amendment while the case is reviewed, saying the case goes “to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights.”
“The Court finds that plaintiff has made a strong showing that State Question
755’s amendment’s primary effect inhibits religion and that the amendment fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion,” she wrote.