An Oklahoma City resident is planning to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a measure voters approved that prohibits Oklahoma courts from considering international law or Sharia law when making decisions, a civil rights agency announced Wednesday.
Religious and civil rights leaders planned to announce the details of the potential lawsuit during a news conference at 2 p.m. today at the state Capitol.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR-OK, is hosting the event.
About 70 percent of voters Tuesday were in favor of State Question 755, the measure that is being disputed.
In a statement released Wednesday, Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, an author of the measure, commended voters for their "awesome support" of that measure and State Question 751, which requires that all official state actions be conducted in English.
"Certainly each of these measures had critics, but the crushing margins by which these constitutional amendments passed shows without a doubt that those critics are deeply out of touch with the values and views of Oklahomans, just as Washington, D.C., is out of touch with America," Sykes' statement said.
Opponents of the measure have called it unnecessary and offensive.
CAIR-OK Executive Director Muneer Awad said politicians used fear-mongering and misinformation to scare Oklahomans into voting for the measure.
"There's no threat," Awad said. "It's a legal impossibility."
He said the measure is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution. He also worried it could discourage international investors from conducting business in Oklahoma.
Chuck Thornton, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, described the measure as an "ugly piece of legislation that was used to inflame passions against the Islamic community."
Thornton also was concerned that the measure would send the wrong message to international investors.
"I think when members of the international community look at something like this, it may give them reason to pause if they are considering investing in Oklahoma," Thornton said.
The state has faced an increasing number of lawsuits challenging state statutes during recent years.
Fifteen cases were filed in 2007, followed by 18 in 2008 and 24 in 2009. The attorney general's office handles most cases, but sometimes the state hires outside counsel. An estimate of the number of hours spent on those cases was not available Wednesday. In one example, a lawyer billed the state $90,000 to defend against two lawsuits that challenged abortion laws. Both laws were eventually overturned.