Order blocks Oklahoma constitutional amendment

A temporary restraining order has been issued to block a state constitutional amendment that prohibits state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.
By TIM TALLEY Modified: November 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm •  Published: November 8, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday to block a new amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange handed down the order after an Oklahoma man filed a lawsuit claiming the amendment stigmatized his religion and would invalidate his will, which he said is partially based on Islamic Law, also known as Sharia Law.

“My constitutional rights are being violated through the condemnation of my faith,” said Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “Islam was the target of this amendment. This amendment does not have a secular purpose.”

The measure, State Question 755, was approved with 70 percent of the vote in the Nov. 2 general election. The judge's order prevents the state Election Board from certifying the results of that vote, which it had planned to do Tuesday afternoon.

The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a preliminary injunction.

Awad, a law school graduate who has not been admitted to practice in Oklahoma, was congratulated by Muslims and other supporters following Miles-LaGrange's ruling. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Muslims live in the state.

“We're confident in the case. We're confident in the claims we are making,” said Awad, who filed the lawsuit Thursday. “Today's ruling is a reminder of the strength of our nation's legal system and the protections it grants to religious minorities.”

The measure's author, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, attended the brief court hearing and said afterward he was surprised by Miles-LaGrange's decision.



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