Oklahoma’s voter-approved amendment to the state’s constitution to prevent its courts from considering international law or Islam’s Shariah law was permanently blocked by a U.S. judge.
The measure, which the judge said was approved by 70 percent of the state’s voters in November 2010, was found to violate the guarantee of religious freedom contained in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, the court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City said in her ruling yesterday.
The state failed to prove a compelling interest for the law, Miles-LaGrange said. She also rejected Oklahoma’s request to sever the offending portions of the amendment, concluding that without the Shariah provision, the measure might not have passed.
“The public debate, public discussions, articles, radio ads and robocalls” regarding the amendment “all primarily and overwhelmingly focused on the Shariah law provisions,” Miles-LaGrange said.
The case was filed two days after the 2010 election by an Ann Arbor, Michigan-born Muslim, Muneer Awad, who served as executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
A November 2010 court order preliminarily blocking certification of the election results was upheld last year by a Denver-based U.S. appeals court.
“This law unfairly singled out one faith and one faith only,” Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said in a statement. “This amendment was nothing more than a solution in search of a problem.”
“We have received the order and, as always, we are in the process of carefully reviewing the judge’s decision,” state Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt said today in an e-mailed statement.
The case is Awad v. Ziriax, U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City).
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