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EDITORIAL: Sooner state Shariah

Oklahoma leads the charge to preserve constitutional law

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oklahomans showcased their independent streak on Election Day by launching a pre-emptive strike against the creeping influence of Shariah in their state. Voters gave the Oklahoma International Law Amendment an overwhelming 70 percent approval, denying judges the ability to consult the laws of foreign cultures when settling U.S. legal questions. While proponents of Islamic law have responded with a court challenge that has temporarily blocked the measure, the Sooner State - which sets an example for the rest of the nation - should not waver in its efforts to maintain the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution.

Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), filed a lawsuit on Nov. 4 challenging the ballot question's constitutionality. On Nov. 8, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange granted a temporary restraining order preventing the state election board from certifying the results of the vote until a hearing, scheduled for Nov. 22, is held on the measure.

Mr. Awad's legal motion contends that the proposed amendment would violate his First Amendment rights. As his lawyer argued, "[M]uch of the bounty of religious liberty the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses once supplied him has, for him at least, vanished." It is difficult to see how the measure approved by Oklahoma's voters subtracts from Mr. Awad's rights in any way. In fact, it ensures that judges focus on the principles of the U.S. Constitution - including the First Amendment - over those found in precepts of international law. It is Shariah law that threatens the free exercise of religion. History is littered with the victims of Islam's perspective of "free speech."

Nonetheless, Judge Miles-LaGrange found that Mr. Awad had "a substantial likelihood of success" with his argument that forcing courts to rely only upon the U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, U.S. Code and federal regulations - and not Shariah - somehow violates the U.S. Constitution. "Specifically, the Court finds that plaintiff has made a preliminary showing that State Question 755's amendment is not facially neutral, discriminates against a specific religious belief, and prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons," she explained. Apparently, Judge Miles-LaGrange wants the freedom to consult the Prophet Muhammad before issuing a decision.

The absurdity of this position can be seen by reviewing the arguments made by a number of newspapers against the anti-Shariah amendment when it was first proposed. The Oklahoman said there was no need for the measure because extra-constitutional codes are already prohibited from courtroom consideration. Now the opposition is claiming that the voters' will must be ignored because the amendment - instead of doing nothing - will do too much.

Oklahomans should be commended for demonstrating their belief that it's both rational and necessary to prevent an adulteration of U.S. law that gradually could undermine fundamental American liberties. True to their nickname, Sooners didn't wait around for that to happen. Judge Miles-LaGrange should think twice before substituting her judgment for that of the people.

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