According to federal judge Vicki Miles LaGrange, more time is needed to determine if a voter-approved restriction against Sharia law should be kept out of the state constitution. The measure, a constitutional amendment, forbids courts from using or considering international law or Islamic Sharia law when making decisions.
So far the amendment has not gone into effect as it faces a host of legal challenges and concerns. Many have already noted the problem the measure poses for the state’s Native American population, not to mention businesses in Oklahoma who do business internationally and may have contracts that contain a “choice of law” provision dictating that a foreign jurisdiction’s law be used in settling disputes.
The amendment has also been specifically challenged by a Muslim in Oklahoma who argues the amendment demonizes his faith and is unconstitutional.
In the hearing to extend the preliminary injunction the judge’s focus was on getting the state to articulate the purpose of the measure in specific terms. An assistant attorney general arguing on behalf of the measure said it was to keep Oklahoma courts from looking to the precepts of other nations or cultures in applying the law but acknowledged that the state lacked any evidence of even a single incident where Sharia law had been used in Oklahoma courts.
Without such evidence the measure is likely doomed as it will be impossible for the state to meet its legal burden of proving that the necessity for state action outweighs any First Amendment restrictions the measure puts in place.
photo courtesy of roel1947 via Flickr