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Entries in Ballot Initiative (1)

Monday
Nov292010

Federal Judge Bars Oklahoma Ballot Initiative on Sharia Law

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal judge in Oklahoma on Monday barred the implementation of a ballot initiative, passed by 70 percent of voters in Oklahoma, that would have forbidden state courts from considering Sharia Law in their decisions.

"This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights," Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote. "Throughout the course of our country's history, the will of the 'majority' has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals," she wrote.

The controversial initiative was passed even though its supporters acknowledged they had no evidence that the state's courts were considering Sharia -- the body of law based on Islam and the Koran -- in their decisions.

The initiative was immediately challenged by Muneer Awad, Oklahoma executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who filed suit claiming the measure violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the government from giving preference to one religion over another.

Opponents of the initiative say it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims. They say it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications.

"The Court finds that plaintiff has shown that he will suffer an injury in fact, specifically, an invasion of his First Amendment rights which is concrete, particularized and imminent." Judge Miles-LaGrange wrote in granting Awad's request for a preliminary injunction. "The actual language of the amendment reasonably...may be viewed as specifically singling out Sharia Law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff's faith."

State Senator Rex Conrad, who penned the legislation, told the Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma does not have that problem yet...but why wait until it's in the courts?"

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