Three measures appear headed to court in Oklahoma
By Al Ortiz
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma: On November 2, nine statewide ballot questions out of the 11 that appeared were approved by Oklahoma voters, but now three of those seem to be headed to court, according to reports.
With the passage of SQ 755, Muslims in the state planned for action against the measure in court. The measure, which requires that courts rely on federal or state laws when handing down decisions and would prohibit them from using Sharia law, passed on November 2 with an unofficial result of 70.08 percent to 29.92 percent.
According to reports, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma planned to file the lawsuit, which claims that the measure is unconstitutional. Muneer Awad, executive director of the group, stated that the measure is deceptive and misleads people into believing that there is a threat from Islam in the country. The lawsuit, according to Awad at the time, would be filed in federal court by as early as November 4, 2010. The measure was indeed filed on that day, with Awad listed as the plaintiff.
On November 8, 2010 U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that the amendment should be put on hold until a November 22 hearing. The judge placed a temporary restraining order on the measure. According to Awad, "Today's ruling is a reminder of the strength of our nation's legal system and the protections it grants to religious minorities. We are humbled by this opportunity to show our fellow Oklahomans that Muslims are their neighbors and that we are committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution and promoting the benefits of a pluralistic society."
Representative Rex Duncan was the chief author of the proposal, and stated that Sharia law was a "cancer" in the United Kingdom because those courts enforced shariah. Duncan stated, "SQ 755 will constitute a pre-emptive strike against Shariah law coming to Oklahoma." Duncan also added, "While Oklahoma is still able to defend itself against this sort of hideous invasion, we should do so."
The complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma can be read here.
State Question 746, which requires voters to bring a photo I.D. to the polls, and State Question 751, which will make English the state's official language, are the other two measures heading to court.
According to legal analyst Irven Box, of News 9 in Oklahoma, the state will be defending the measures in each case, thus the state won't take on the costs of the lawsuits. However, Box stated that if a judge rules against the state of Oklahoma, taxpayers would most likely end up being affected by paying for the costs.
- Oklahoma "Sharia Law Amendment," State Question 755 (2010)
- Oklahoma 2010 ballot measures
- 2010 ballot measures
- The Oklahoman, "Oklahoma Muslims to challenge ballot measure," November 4, 2010
- The Wall Street Journal, "Ban of Islamic Law in Oklahoma Renders a Quick Lawsuit," November 5, 2010
- WND.com, "Judge blocks anti-Shariah amendment," November 8, 2010
- Illume, "Oklahoma Considers 'Shariah Ban'," June 15, 2010
- News on 6, "Lawsuits Over State Questions Could Cost Taxpayers," November 6, 2010