Oklahoma "Sharia Law Amendment", State Question 755 (2010)
With the passage of the measure, Muslims in the state planned for action against the measure in court. According to reports, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma would file the lawsuit, which will claim 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, had planned to be filed in federal court by as early as November 4, 2010. According to reports, the measure was indeed filed on that day, with Awad listed as the plaintiff. The complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma can be read here.
On November 29, 2010, an injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange on the measure which will continue to bar the law from taking effect in the state. The injunction will also allow Miles-LaGrange to consider arguments from both sides of the lawsuit. According to the order, "The court finds that defendants have presented no evidence which would show the amendment is justified by any compelling interest or is narrowly tailored." Muneer Awad will now ask that the court issue a permanent injunction on the measure. The outcome of the lawsuit was then appealed to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Following this, on May 10, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief challenging the law with the same court the previous lawsuit is being appealed in, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The full brief can be read here.
On January 10, 2012, the 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals struck down the measure, stating that the proposal violates the United States Constitution. The measure, approved by voters, had an injunction placed on it in 2011 while the courts decided on a ruling. The law never took effect because of this.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Results of the measure follow:
|Question 755 (International Law)|
|Overturned Case:Awad v. Ziriax No. 10-6273|
Results via the Oklahoma Election Board.
Text of measure
| This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.
The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.
Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.
Shall the proposal be approved?
For the proposal
Against the proposal
The summary of the measure read:
- A Joint Resolution direction the Secretary of State to refer to the people for their approval or rejection a proposed amendment to Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma; creating the Save Our State Amendment; requiring the courts of this state to uphold and adhere to the law as provided in federal and state constitutions, established common law, laws, rules and regulations; prohibiting consideration of certain laws; providing ballot title; and directing filing.
The following are certain points of Sharia Law:
- Sharia Law is described as "a religious code for living, in the same way that the Bible offers a moral system for Christians."
- Sharia Law cites "Haram" offenses that carry punishments for those who commit them.
- Offenses include pre-marital sex, adulter, alcohol intake, theft, robbery, etc.
- Sharia Law has been adopted across various countries.
- Sharia Law is intended to be applied to only Muslims.
- Representative Rex Duncan was the chief author of the bill, 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."
- Representative Lewis Moore co-authored the bill and commented on Sharia law and how it shouldn't be used in court rulings: “I don’t think we should accept or encourage Sharia law in any way, shape or form."
- Senator Anthony Sykes co-authored the bill and was on the record as saying, "Shariah law coming to the U.S. is a scary concept. Hopefully the passage of this constitutional amendment will prevent it in Oklahoma."
- A campaign called Act! For America, begun what reports called a "media blitz" in the state of Oklahoma. The campaign included a radio ad that began airing on October 18, 2010 and opinion articles in state newspapers. Brigitte Gabriel, CEO of the campaign, stated, "We want to make sure that the people in Oklahoma are educated about what Shariah law is all about and its ramifications. We're not taking any chances with this initiative passing marginally. We hope it passes with great victory."
- An opinion column written by Brigitte Gabriel, international terrorism analyst and president of ACT! for America.org, and Lauren Losawyer of ACT!, argued, "Sharia law, in short, is a comprehensive, theo-political law system used in many Islamic countries including Iran that is based on precepts contained in the Quran and the hadith (the sayings and traditions of Mohammed). Under sharia law, women have few rights compared to men, freedom of speech is severely curtailed and freedom of religion is limited or nonexistent."
- John Swails, who was the director of the Center for Israel and Middle East Studies at Oral Roberts University, stated the law was "pretty well solidified", however it was different from separate Islamic nations. Swails was for the measure, because "They'll tell you it provides religious freedom, but that's true only if you're a Muslim." Swails also stated that he sees that the law's supporters are beginning a campaign to have the U.S. embrace Sharia."
- Representative Cory Williams stated, "If I was a Muslim Oklahoman, I would be offended by my religion being singled out. Some people buy into the whole butterfly theory that if a judge in Europe flaps his wings and adopted Sharia law then it will come to Oklahoma. I, on the other hand, do not.”
- Saad Mohammed, director of Islamic information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, opposed the measure. Mohammed stated that Sharia Law coincides with about 80% of the United States Constitution. This, according to Mohammed, reflects justice and equality for all and that extremists use Sharia in a distorted way. Mohammed claimed, "Sharia is more of a protection than something used to oppress."
- Razi Hashmi, executive director of CAIR-Oklahoma, said there were more pressing issues in the state that needed more attention from lawmakers instead of this issue. Hashmi countered claims by Rex Duncan that the CAIR wanted Sharia Law in the the state and nation. Hashmi claimed, "That’s absolutely absurd. I don’t know anybody who wants Sharia here. Where is he getting that?"
- Spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Tulsa Sandra Rana said that the question was a "non-issue." According to Rana, "I don't know why anyone feels we should spend valuable time and resources on this. There are so many other important issues that need to be addressed."
- According to Orvil Harris, who participated actively in the Islamic Society of Ada, "I don’t think there needs to be something like this now. I’m interested in what is going on in this country, and I don’t want to do anything to make Islam objectionable.”
- Jari Askins, gubernatorial candidate, was against the measure, stating, "The last time I looked at my old notes from law school, most of America’s jurisprudence system was based on England and jurisprudence there, so I think we need to be, really, smarter, about how we phrase some of these things."
- Resident Mohamed Boudhhir argued that the measure sent a message of hatred and that people who were not Muslims shouldn't be concerned with Sharia Law. Boudhhir stated, “As long as it doesn’t affect you in any way, why should you be concerned how I solve a problem between me and my brother, or neighbor who is Muslim. I do not think it should be a matter of concern for a non-Muslim."
- According to Muneer Awad, another executive director of CAIR stated, "We take a stand in opposition to the proposed amendment. It's ridiculous that anyone would suggest it would happen. Our Constitution would not allow any religious law to supersede the existing laws."
- The Tulsa Beacon made recommendations for all the state questions on the ballot, and recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure.
- The Oklahoman recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating, "As it is, judges exclusively use state and federal law to guide their judicial decision-making. Passing the question might make some politicians happy and make some Oklahomans feel better. That's all it would do. Voters should reject it as unnecessary."
- The Enid News and Eagle recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating, "This measure would prohibit the use of international or Sharia law when cases are decided in Oklahoma courts. There is no need for this law because judges exclusively use state and federal law to guide their decisions. This is meant as nothing more than a feel-good measure."
- The Tulsa World was against the measure, recommending a 'no' vote: "SQ 755 would prohibit state judges from using international law, and specifically Shariah law, in making their decisions. The proposal is bigoted and seeks to solve a nonexistent problem. It should be rejected."
- The Oklahoma Daily was against the measure, stating, "We say: NO. Oklahoma couldn’t miss out on the Islamophobia in America. If passed, SQ 755 would outlaw the use of Sharia Law in state courts. The idea that these courts use or could use Sharia is ridiculous, and the measure implies Oklahoma’s Muslims are all extremists trying to subvert U.S. laws. Let’s not marginalize the state’s Muslim population."
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- In a poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com, 49 percent of voters polled stated that they were for the measure. The poll surveyed likely registered voters in the state, which included 385 Democrats, 340 Republicans and 31 independents. The margin of error was reported to be 3.57 percentage points and was commissioned by the Tulsa World.
- In one of the last polls taken by SoonerPoll before the general election, the results showed support of the measure by those surveyed. The poll included 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|July 16-21, 2010||SoonerPoll.com||49%||24%||27%||755|
|October 18-23, 2010||SoonerPoll.com||57%||24%||19%||753|
Path to the ballot
The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.
- Oklahoma State Questions Booklet for the November 2, 2010 election, prepared by the Oklahoma State Election Board
- Oklahoma Lawmakers Seek Voter Backing to Ban Shariah From Courts
- No Sharia In America
- Interview with Rex Duncan on "Hannity"
- ↑ Oklahoma Secretary of State, "State Questions"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Edmond Sun, "Sharia law, courts likely on 2010 ballot", June 4, 2010
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Tulsa World, "Injunction issued on 755", November 30, 2010
- ↑ Salon.com, "Anti-sharia measure under attack in the courts", May 10, 2011
- ↑ Think Progress, "BREAKING: 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals Declares Oklahoma’s Sharia Ban Unconstitutional", January 10, 2012
- ↑ Oklahoma Secretary of State, "Proposed State Questions", Retrieved on August 23, 2010
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Oklahoma Secretary of State, "755"
- ↑ Religious Tolerance, "Sharia law: A brief introduction"
- ↑ The Oklahoman, "Sharia law question merits support", October 18, 2010
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Leagle.com, "Legislator's proposal would ban use of Sharia law", July 18, 2010
- ↑ Fox News, "Sharia (Islamic Law) Not O.K. in Oklahoma", June 25, 2010
- ↑ The Norman Transcript, "SQ 755 ban raises questions, concerns", September 25, 2010
- ↑ Ardmoreite.com, "SQ 744, 754 and 755 draw voters’ interest", October 10, 2010
- ↑ Fox 23, "Ballot Measure Prompts Muslim Outcry", October 21, 2010
- ↑ Tulsa Beacon, "Tulsa Beacon voting endorsements for the Nov. 2 Election", October 28, 2010
- ↑ The Oklahoman, "Our SQ choices", October 17, 2010
- ↑ The Enid News and Eagle, "Our take on the state questions", October 18, 2010
- ↑ Tulsa World, "State questions", October 24, 2010
- ↑ The Oklahoma Daily, "OUR VIEW: State Questions 754, 755", October 27, 2010
- ↑ The Tulsa World, "Education funding measure supported, Oklahoma Poll shows", August 5, 2010
- ↑ Tulsa World, "SQ 744 opposition rises", October 30, 2010
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