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Federal appeals court considers Oklahoma Sharia law ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] on Monday heard arguments over whether state courts can consider international law—and in particular, Sharia law—in their decisions. State Question 755 [text, PDF] allows state courts to look only to legal precedents of other states for guidance, provided that state does not use Islamic law. The amendment also prevents courts from "look[ing] to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures." The law condemns Muslims and their religious beliefs, argued [AP report] the attorney for Muneer Awad [WT backgrounder], executive director of the Oklahoma Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website]. Oklahoma Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick defended the law as necessary to prevent confusion in the courts, but one judge questioned why Sharia law was singled out.

Oklahoma voters approved [JURIST report] the amendment to the state constitution [text] last November, but it has since been blocked [JURIST report] by a federal judge. The amendment, also known as the Save Our State amendment, has been called un-American by skeptics [JURIST comment]. The law 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. The necessity of the amendment has been questioned [CNN report], due to the fact that the use of Islamic law in US courts would likely violate the First Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] prohibition on laws respecting an establishment of religion in the US Constitution [text].

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