A federal judge has temporarily halted the implementation of a recently passed state constitutional amendment that would ban state judges from issuing rulings based upon Islamic law.
The ruling, issued Monday in the Western District of U.S. District Court, granted a temporary restraining order requested in a lawsuit filed Nov. 4 by Oklahoma resident Muneer Awad against the Oklahoma State Election Board, arguing that State Question 755 violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
SQ 755, which bans judges from using Shariah and international law in their rulings, was approved by voters on Nov. 2 with around 70 percent of the vote.
In her ruling, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange also set a hearing date on the restraining order at 10 a.m. on Nov. 22.
After the order was issued, Awad, who is the new executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was confident that the law would be struck down as unconstitutional.
“We’re satisfied (with the restraining order),” Awad said. “It (the law) is going to label Islam as devastating to the way of life in Oklahoma. It will serve as a vehicle of discrimination against Islam and Muslims. “¦ It is state disapproval of Islam.”
Awad said if the amendment were to go into effect, legal documents such as his living will ” which Awad said was based on Shariah ” would be invalidated.
“The Shariah Ban singles out Plaintiff’s faith, but no other faith, for special restrictions,” Awad’s suit states, claiming the amendment’s “goal was to stigmatize Islam by establishing in the public’s mind that Islam is something foreign and to be feared.”
The suit itself has come under fire from some lawmakers as well as other religious organizations.
The suit also cites news articles containing what it states are lawmakers’ sectarian purposes in promoting the state question, including an Oklahoma Gazette report in which state Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, calls Shariah a “looming threat.”
Paul Blair, the founder of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ and pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, called the suit “absurd.”
“This amendment requires Oklahoma to use only federal law or state law in deciding all legal issues,” Blair said. “To claim that an amendment requiring the courts to use the Constitution as being ‘unconstitutional’ may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and is clearly a waste of the court’s time.”
According to its website, Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ is an organization with a goal to promote “America’s Christian Heritage and the role of fundamental, Biblical Christianity in the establishment and function of our legal, legislative and educational systems; and to work towards the successful reestablishment of these values in our society today.”