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Federal judge bars Oklahoma's certification of Sharia law amendment

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange barred the certification of the Sharia law amendment. The Oklahoma Muslim community hailed her ruling as victory for the constitution while the amendment's authors expressed their disappointment.
BY CARLA HINTON Published: November 9, 2010

Several Muslim leaders said the constitution was the winner Monday when a federal judge barred the Oklahoma Election Board from certifying an amendment prohibiting state courts from considering international or Sharia law.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order on the certification and said she will take the matter up again on Nov. 22 to determine whether a preliminary injunction is warranted.

At issue is a voter-approved amendment barring Oklahoma courts from considering international law or Sharia law when making decisions.

Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the amendment as unconstitutional. He sought the restraining order and a preliminary injunction to keep the state election board from certifying the amendment.

Awad, representing himself, told Miles-LaGrange that Oklahoma judges would have to consider Sharia law in order to avoid it, and they first must define what it is and what it isn't. He said the definition of Sharia law depends on the person defining it, and people in the Muslim community often view it differently. He said the amendment publicly condemns Islam as a "threat to Oklahoma."

Awad said his constitutional rights will be violated by the amendment because it defines what "my faith is and what my faith is not."

Assistant Attorney General Scott Boughton argued that Awad did not have standing to speak to the court in requesting the temporary restraining order. Boughton said Awad, in his arguments, failed to show that the amendment represented a present or imminent injury. Boughton told the judge that a temporary restraining order would "frustrate the will of the Legislature and the will of the voters who cast votes in the last election."

When Miles-LaGrange asked whether Boughton had written briefs of his arguments for her review, Boughton said his office had not had a chance to file written briefs.

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