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Federal judge extends order blocking Oklahoma Islamic law ban

A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma [official website] on Monday extended [text, PDF] a temporary restraining order blocking the controversial Oklahoma constitutional amendment [SQ 755 text, PDF] banning the courts from considering foreign or Islamic law. Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange said she needed more time [KOCO report] to deal with this issue, which pits the will of the voters against the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Still, she is expected to rule by the end of the month. The case was brought [JURIST report] by Muneer Awad, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website] in Oklahoma, claiming the law is a violation of the First Amendment because it disfavors and stigmatizes his religion. Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved the measure [JURIST report] in the November 2 mid-term elections with 70 percent of the vote.

Miles-LeGrange issued the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] just six days after the election, stopping the Oklahoma Board of Elections [official website] from certifying the results. SQ 755 would prevent Oklahoma courts from "look[ing] to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures," requiring them only to look to legal precedents of other states for guidance, provided that state does not use Islamic law. It was sponsored by state Representative Rex Duncan (R) [official website], who described it as a preemptive strike [Daily Mail report] against the use of Islamic law in Oklahoma. Duncan defended SQ 755 as necessary to protect Oklahoma [MSNBC report, video] from an attack on the fundamental Judeo-Christian principles on which he says the US is founded. On the other hand, Haroon Moghul [profile] Executive Director of the Maydan Institute [advocacy website] has argued [JURIST comment] that the passage of SQ 755 was done simply out of the "flawed logic" of a fear of everything Muslim.

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