Did Oklahoma Ban Native American Rights?
Call it the law of unintended consequence, but in a mis-informed rush to protect itself from a “growing menace” of Sharia law, the citizens of Oklahoma may have just banned a whole lot more than an encroaching Islamic presence.
Under the “Save our State” constitutional amendment Oklahoma courts are forbidden from considering or using international and Sharia law in their rulings. Unfortunately for Oklahomans, this means they may have undone last year’s Ten Commandments Monument Display Act which ordered the placement of a monument displaying and honoring the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol, certain business interests, and Native American rights.
Because the language in the ban prohibits courts from looking at “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” it could very well prevent courts from applying tribal law in rendering decisions. Oklahoma has the second largest population of Native Americans in the U.S. and tribes are considered sovereign nations.
In case it sounds like much ado about nothing, consider that the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an official memo before the election warning that the lack of specific tribal language law could damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes and is a stark reminder that “some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood and back of other nations and cultures, namely, ou[r] tribes.”
While it is unlikely that a federal court will uphold the law, and in fact, one federal judge has already issued a temporary order blocking the law, these kinds of snarls serve as a good reminder of just what happens when hysteria shows up at the polling place. There is no evidence of a judicial takeover by Islamic interests nor has there ever been. Yet for some reason some lawmakers have found great success whipping up unnecessary anti-Islamic frenzy as a means of creating job security.
Here’s hoping that they’ve learned their lesson.
photo courtesy of U.S. Army via Flickr