A panel of judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments today surrounding attempts by Oklahoma legislators to forbid the use of Sharia law in state courts. At issue is whether a lower judge was correct in blocking a 2010 ballot initiative forbidding Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic laws in their decisions.
U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange blocked the measure in November 2010, after the measure was challenged as violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that forbids the government from favoring one religion over another. The measure was blocked because Sharia-ban supporters could identify “any situation where Sharia Law has been applied in an Oklahoma court.”
Supporters of the ban argue that the “principle purpose” of the ban was to forbid the Oklahoma courts from looking at the “precepts of other nations or cultures” and bans equally consideration of all foreign law, including Sharia.
Opponents argue the measure stigmatizes Islam and “tramples on the free exercise rights of a disfavored minority faith.” They argue the measure constrains the ability of Muslims in Oklahoma from doing things like executing valid wills, asserting religious liberty claims under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act and enjoying equal access to the state judicial system.
The ban may also call into question long-standing tribal treaties and create chaos for Oklahoma businesses that conduct business abroad.
The panel of judges will issue their decision sometime later this year.
Photo from RoelWijnants via flickr.
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