Muslim Group to Sue Oklahoma Over Shariah Law Amendment

On Wednesday, November 3, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced that it plans to file a lawsuit against Oklahoma for passing the “Shariah law amendment.”

As explained in our previous blog post, the amendment changed the state constitution so that Oklahoma courts are now forbidden from “considering or using” both international law and Sharia law when making their decisions. CAIR considers the amendment unconstitutional. In a press release, CAIR said it would hold a news conference this Thursday to bring attention to its legal action.

Constitutional scholars say that the way the law singles out a particular religion violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also point out that Shariah law has never been used in Oklahoma court decisions anyway.

“Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don’t cry,” Rick Tepker of the University of Oklahoma Law School told CNN. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren’t going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin.”

CAIR argues that the law could negatively impact Muslims living in Oklahoma in a variety of ways, from potentially changing how food is labeled to requiring them to remove head scarves for driver’s license photos. In addition, CAIR said that the measure has nothing to do with punishments such as stonings, which are often associated with Islamic law.

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Reinhard von Hennigs