November 3rd, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Law professor: Ban on Sharia law 'a mess'

Oklahoma's new ban on Islamic law poses potential legal hurdles.

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved a measure that bans the application of Islamic law and orders judges in the state to rely only on federal law when deciding cases. State Rep. Rex Duncan, a Republican, was the primary author of the measure, which amends that state constitution.

Watch how the ballot initiative's author and others feel about the ban

For months, legal experts had lambasted the initiative as biased toward a religion and potentially harmful to local businesses that engage in commerce with international companies. It also presents potential constitutional law problems, experts say. Is Oklahoma's state constitution now in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ... "?

There has never been a previous case in the state in which Sharia law was applied, said Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tepker called the passage of the measure "a mess" with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.

"Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don't cry," he said. "I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn't that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren't going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin."

What is Sharia law, and how is it defined in the ban?

Businesses that engage with international companies may also find the ban is a stumbling block, Tepker said. The ban also requires all state business to be conducted in English.

Duncan has said he knew of no precedent in the state's history in which a judge applied Sharia law. But he backed the measure, he told reporters, as a "pre-emptive strike."

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Filed under: Oklahoma • Politics
soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. The Dude

    Interesting... CNN's blog moderators don't seem to be wanting to approve my posts. I'm not surprised at all that CNN want's to only post the bleeding heart liberals point of view.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WhiteKong78

    CNN won't post mine either. Apparently they like to silence the opposition to honor killings.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Craig

    Being from Oklahoma I apologize. This was just an attemtp by conservative state house to mobilize radicals to come to the polls and vote radically as they did. You should see the hack that got put in the Governors mansion. This stupid question was exactly how they got the votes to beat Jari Askins.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denise Miller

      That's what I want to know. It was my first time to vote, and I felt like my vote meant nothing.

      November 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Poor Denise; You should be thankful you were Allowed to vote, and not told by your father who to vote for!

      November 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. david davidson


    November 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jonathan

    I'm from Oklahoma, and I support this SQ (even though I didn't vote yes on it) because I support separation of church and state. Unfortunately, 99.9% of Oklahomans won't acknowledge the part of separation of church and state that applies to Christians, and they keep on flooding our state and national legislature with 'socially conservative' politicians. Talk about hypocrisy. You all have every reason to treat OK like the armpit of the country.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Dude

    Praise Allah! We must behead all the infidels!

    THIS they'll probably post... Hey CNN, get Wolf Blitzer to review my posts, I'll accept HIS judgment call on it rather than some lame non-objective intern.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The Dude

    SEE!!!! I told you they would!

    November 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • spotswood

      Wow, maybe time to hop back on the medication buddy

      November 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. matthew whitaker

    I dont think people thought about the reprecussions that this law and others like the English only law would have on buisness with other states and countries. I think that like many things, this law was not thought through and was a spur of the moment based on inaccurate information. Kind of like how health care was going to kill grandma, totally made up! I live in Oklahoma and voted against these measures so please don't lump all Oklahomans into the same generalization of being uninformed.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Narah

    "I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments." (said a law professor).

    The answer is no. The way we know this is that the measure said nothing about not considering the Ten Commandments. It also said nothing about not considering Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It also said nothing about ........

    November 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MattGordonMD

    Considering the TeaBagger sheeple believe Obama is a Kenyan-muslim-anti-colonial-sans U.S. birth certificate, we can see the perverted logic that would lead them to believe sharia law is next. "Pre-emptive strike"? No thanks, one or two quagmires at a time, please. Welcome to the Idiocracy... electrolytes for everyone.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sandy Morgan

    Sharia is not banned. Now even there is a new website for sharia in US :

    November 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill miller

      Seriously, did you read anything at that site? It is a hate filled rant AGAINST Sharia.

      November 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really....?

      Really Sandy,

      Next time you would like to make ridiculous comments about a ridiculous law, please READ what it is you're talking about.

      "The creators and contributors to sharia4america unconditionally oppose Sharia Law and its implementation. The laws of the United States, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, are the only laws that should ever be applied." –

      November 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Dude

    I'm not so sure about Sharia Law, but there certainly should be a law that CNN cannot play the theme from the series John Adams, being as that they suppress free expression in blog comments that is well within their Terms of Service.

    Perhaps there should also be a law that CNN moderators should have to actually READ the Terms of Service before being allowed to make judgment calls on comments.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BCasey

      I believe it is well within there legal rights as a corporation, with the same rights as a citizen, to remove hate speech from their private web site.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AK

    The only way Shari'a would ever apply in Oklahoma would be if enough Muslims moved there to elect representation sufficient to change the law...and if that happens it's too late anyway.

    Wonder if anyone thought of this before they engaged on this basicaly purposeless exercise?

    November 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mohammad Sohrab Aziz

    The law and order, international way .

    November 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. OKlahomaThndr

    I voted for this state question. The state question reinforces the practice of basing court rulings on state and federal law. This question doesn't change anything at all.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
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