The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma’s Anti-Shariah Amendment

By Keegan Hankes on August 19, 2013 - 3:22 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Extremist Propaganda

A federal judge in Oklahoma last week ruled that a voter-approved constitutional amendment, meant to prevent the imposition of Islamic religious law in the state’s courts, violated the U.S. constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion.

Chief District Judge Vicki Miles LaGrange said Thursday that the state’s Save Our State Amendment, passed by referendum in 2010 after a huge propaganda campaign by its backers, failed to identify or address an “actual problem” in the legal system. Opponents, including numerous legal commentators, have said for years that the anti-Shariah law was utterly unnecessary because the Constitution would not allow the imposition of foreign law. But after Oklahoma approved its referendum, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee still passed similar measures.

Most, including the Oklahoma referendum, were based on model legislation — the so-called “American Laws for American Courts” proposal — drawn up by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a religious-right law firm formed by Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, and David Yerushalmi, a virulently anti-Muslim lawyer and founding father of the anti-Shariah movement. Yerushalmi has said that the “War on Terror” should be a war on Islam “and all the Muslim faithful,” and once proposed to outlaw Islam and deport all Muslims.

The state’s constitutional amendment never went into effect because the courts stayed it pending the resolution of outstanding legal challenges. It was contested by Muneer Awad, the former Oklahoma state director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim-American advocacy group.

According to the AFLC’s website, the American Laws for American Courts model legislation “was crafted to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shariah law.” The site claims that “increasingly, foreign laws and legal doctrines, including Shariah law principles, are finding their way into U.S. court cases.” But in fact Shariah law has only been used in private civil law contracts between individuals who agree to be bound by its tenets in advance — and not, in any case, in criminal matters, which are governed by the Constitution.

In such matters — for instance, in a private sales or marriage contract — the parties may agree to be bound under Shariah law, but not if it conflicts with American criminal law (a man, for instance, could not legally beat his wife even if the couple had earlier agreed to be governed by Shariah marriage law). Robert K. Vischer, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas law school in Minneapolis, said as much in an essay posted to First Things, a non-partisan and non-denominational website devoted to advancing “religiously informed public philosophy.”

“Before Christian and Jewish believers support such measures,” he wrote, “they should consider the way these laws not only misunderstand the faith of the Muslim fellow citizens but threaten their own religious liberty. Muslim Americans who seek to use Sharia are not asking the American legal system to adopt Islamic rules of conduct, penal or otherwise. Muslims have introduced Sharia in court not in an attempt to establish a freestanding source of law binding on litigants but rather in recognition of the norms to which the litigants have already agreed to be bound.”

“American courts do this every day—it’s called contract law,” Vischer continued. “Even the literature being pumped out by anti-Sharia organizations show that their target is not the threat posed by the imposition of Sharia on American society but rather the threat posed by the introduction of Sharia according to the same criteria of admissibility applied by courts to other religious codes.”

Backers of the Save Our State Amendment, which Oklahoma voters passed with a 70% margin, were unable when challenged in a preliminary hearing to produce a single instance when Shariah law had been applied by an Oklahoma court. In her ruling, Judge LaGrange also found that public debate, public discussions, articles, radio ads, and robocalls promoting passage of the amendment led voters to believe that that it was actually a referendum on the advisability of Shariah law.

Despite the AFLC’s claim that “American constitutional rights must be preserved in order to preserve unique American values of liberty and freedom,” Judge LaGrange ironically noted that it was the Constitution that drove her to declare the Oklahoma amendment unconstitutional. “While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, the Court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” she wrote.

  • Reynardine

    Aadila, it isn’t just him. It’s the thundering hooves of his iron-shod Elasmotherium.

    Hey, folks, Allantide approacheth…

  • aadila

    Rey, can you blame anyone for fleeing as the Terrible Red One approacheth? Once while Peter the Great was routing the Swedes from Finland, an entire infantry division fled the field when someone mentioned the name “Ruslan”, not realizing this was merely ingenious propaganda.

  • aadila

    Kiwi you forgot to throw in a free ginsu knife set AND the apple corer if they act now.

  • Erika

    “Eduardo”:

    interesting that you started by apparently trying to insult me by changing my name to its male form. apparently The Women in Control Theatre must have closed its Soviet Gulag room.

    and since i got to see a tornado last year the only possible reason for me wanting to go Oklahoma is now gone.

    very truly yours,

    Erika

    p.s. where is that sexy Red Army Officer outfit that you had promised to send me??? i’m hoping to wear it at this year’s Halloween party :)

  • Reynardine

    Oh, and Lon put on his Potëmkin brassiere and showed up at Politicususa pretending to be “Denise”. Remember “her”? These people are starting to show up in other fora, and they don’t like having their covers blown. The mere mention of Ruslan had “White Rabbit” hopping away, and even those of us who are not quite as…er…impressive… can have a most salutary effect by IDing them where you find them.

  • Kiwiwriter

    “Eduardo Garcia said,

    on August 20th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Eric: If you think all Oklahomans are “bigoted idiots,” then don’t move to Oklahoma. We don’t need you. Go away. If you think Shariah law is so great, then YOU move to a fundamentalist Islamic country and YOU live under Shariah law. Now crawl back in your hole you Communist.”

    Lon Chaney, you have just done a fantastic job of proving that Oklahomans are “bigoted idiots!” That was amazing! You showed no grasp of the court decision, the law, or how it applies, and you denounced someone who opposes you as a Communist! Fantastic!

    While we’re at it, speaking of Communism, let’s take a look at some of your previous statements on this page:

    The answer is very simple. In our movement we have changed the very definitions of Logic itself. Anything that supports the revolution is logical. Anything opposed, by definition, is illogical. After the revolution we will hire thousands of new Historians to write new History books. In these new books we will be portrayed as good, moral, and ethical. Our enemies will be portrayed as immoral, unethical, and evil. And that will fix the problem. One thousand years from now, in the history books, white patriots will be portrayed as heroes. Our enemies, portrayed as devils. Thus, the problem will be fixed.”

    That’s Communism in action, Lon!

    Wait, there’s more:

    Remember asking us for details about our arrest histories, sexual orientation, and 10-year resumes for a “profile” you are building on us? How’s that project coming?

    You have written that Stalin intended to mate captured German civilians with monkeys to create a super-race, with proofs and citations. Your statement: “In the closing days of WWII the Soviet army was an entire army of rapists. Stalin had a secret agreement with Churchill and Roosevelt to take 4 million German civilians as slaves to Siberia to work in the Gulags — German women, old people teenagers, children. German babies were even taken for medical experiments. Stalin has a nightmarish dream of breeding humans with gorillas to create a super race of human/ape hybrids, which of course, failed. Read yourself in the Yalta agreement. It says the Soviets can take civilians as ‘labor in kind’ — meaning SLAVES!” Can you prove this with documentary evidence, such as examples of this “super race of human/ape hybrids?”

    And even more!

    “on May 3rd, 2012 at 11:20 pm: “What’s wrong with being a neo-Nazi?” ”

    “America is an evil country. While our brave young men were fighting in the East to stop the Asiatic hoards [sic], America bombed our civilians. There were no German soldiers left in the cities near the end of WWII. There were only babies, old people, young children, women. Yet the Americans bombed these civilians. During all this time our brave young men were fighting against Communism. America is an evil country. America fought on the side of evil during WWII. And evil won that war.” How can you rectify this hypocrisy?

    And more!

    “#47 Comment By Jason Smith On May 7, 2012 @ 12:17 pm A.D.M., Ruslan, Erica, Reynadine, Aron, etc … You will have to start doing your own work. Read some books. If you want to hire me as a consultant , I might do it, for a consulting fee of say $500 dollars per hour. I might be willing to give a speech at one of your events but I would charge a fee. Minimum $10K plus travel expenses. But no, I’m not going to do anything for you for free. FYI: I do not read any of your responses. I never click on your links. I am not going to do any work for you or answer your questions for free. I don’t do that.” Does that mean you are only involved in neo-Nazism for personal gain?

    And more!

    “#5 Comment By Jason Smith On May 3, 2012 @ 6:20 pm I do not believe this story. I believe it’s a setup! Note, the press release calls him the “apparent” shooter, and “The evidence to this point, which will still be verified …” So it’s not yet proven what happened. It may be a setup. It could be another hoax. It is far more likely this crime was committed by a gang of Communists and JT Ready was set up! Communist gangs operate all along the southern boarder smuggling drugs and illegal aliens. That’s a fact!” Can you provide proof that JT Ready was murdered by a Communist gang?

    And finally…

    You have been lectured by Mark Potok for failing to show ordinary courtesy and civility in this group, and for acting like a spoiled schoolchild. Do you intend for your future all-White nation to be run at an adolescent level?

    When reminded that you have to apologize to Mr. Potok, you have given an irrelevant answer about how that will happen when a ‘Socialist utopia’ is built. If we build one, will you offer those explanations and apologies for your behavior?

    You will be tested on this material.

    Good to have the “Man of a Thousand Faces” back! It’s been dull without you to ridicule!

  • Aron

    And now we see ‘Edouardo’s’ true colors.

    Nice to have you back, Lon Chaney.

  • concernedcitizen

    Erika, there are a bunch of bigoted idiots running around far more in the open than they used too. And, in my opinion, they are nothing more than big poster boards as to why you don’t want to support religious right fanatics.

    They give a really bad name to the Christian faith when they broadcast that their bigotry is ordained by God..what God? Certainly no God that I have come to know and love.

    I am very happy that there is a Judge in Oklahoma that can see clearly and stop this foolishness that appears to be spreading through America like a cancerous growth.

  • http://www.peterjkraus.com Peter J. Kraus

    Now the tinfoil hatters can tackle the Unicorn Protection Act of 2013

  • Chuck

    then if they wish to be judges under Shariah let them but for the rest of us no way

  • Eduardo Garcia

    Eric: If you think all Oklahomans are “bigoted idiots,” then don’t move to Oklahoma. We don’t need you. Go away. If you think Shariah law is so great, then YOU move to a fundamentalist Islamic country and YOU live under Shariah law. Now crawl back in your hole you Communist.

  • Sam Molloy

    I would favor the same limitations being put on fundamentalist Christians who try and impose their morality on others. Hopefully our Constitution protects us from both.

  • aadila

    I highly recommend the following link for a detailed (too detailed to summarize here) commentary on what exactly sharia law is:

    http://www.oxfordislamicstudie.....ariah.html

    Most notably, it points out the misconception in the West that sharia is all “one thing” or an unchanging set of laws handed down through time.

    Contemporary sharia legal theory is quite diverse and generally guided by the same principles as legal systems in non-Islamic countries — i.e., the more democratic the government, the more democratic the legal system, whether it be based on English common law or sharia.

    To suggest that there is one unique system of law in all Islamic countries is silly, and quite typical of the willful ignorance that seems to define mainstream right wing ideology.

  • Gregory

    I think the Talibaptists are a greater threat to Oklahoma than the Taliban.

  • Erika

    “Save Our State Amendment”???

    Seriously???

    Isn’t that you know, kind of an overdramatic name to solve a non-existent problem???

    But if they wanted to create a test to determine what percentage of Oklahoma voters actually read more than the title of the Amendment before voting – it seems that the answer is 30%. Admittedly, i may be dramatically overestimating the intelligence of the adverage .to assume that anyone who actually realizes exactly what this amendment does (um, that would be nothing other than make Oklahomans look like a bunch of bigoted idiots) voted against it.

  • Aron

    This is good news. Nothing but.