Constitutional Law

Profs Question Oklahoma’s Voter-Approved Ban on Shariah and International Law


Oklahoma voters approved a state constitutional amendment on Tuesday that bars state judges from consulting Islamic and international law when deciding cases.

Some constitutional law experts have misgivings, CNN reports. One issue is whether the ban on Shariah law conflicts with the First Amendment prohibition on government establishment of religion.

The measure is “a mess,” University of Oklahoma law professor Rick Tepker 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.”

Fordham University law professor Jim Cohen cites separation-of-powers concerns about the ban, which was approved by the state legislature before it was placed on the ballot, according to ABC News and Islam Today. “It’s far from clear that the Oklahoma legislature can restrict what a separate branch of government can consider in terms of doing its job—in this case, deciding cases,” he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is planning a news conference today to announce a lawsuit that will challenge the law, according to a press release and the Tulsa World.

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