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."

Post by:
Filed under: Oklahoma • Politics
soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. Gilbert

    Is that true Becca? Are you a backward Oklahoman. I didn't get that impression.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Charles

    Sharia law is a violent side of Isalm in which women are forced to wear the full burka's amongst other things. Essentially if you are born Muslim then you cannot change unless you escape. Sharia law is what the brutal Taliban operate under. No one is against Isalm but we do not want to set up a different set of laws for American citizens in
    Oklahoma especially when someone, mostly female potentially could've living in fear and our US gov't allowances it. Seriously, this restricts freedom. Sharia law enslaved people. All people should be punished under state and federal laws equally not by religious belief. Look at Ogre countries which allow Sharia law...Malaysia, Indonesia, it is brutal if you violate he code.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank

    I am a lawyer and I say there is no problem with the new Oklohoma law. CAIR sues pretty much everyone, so who cares what they say. And all these socialists posting here must be pretty disappointed after yesterday's election. They should ask themselves if they would really live under sharia law. This means fewer rights for womem, mutilation for stealing, stoning to death for adultery, death sentence fro leaving islam, tax for non-muslims etc. If you don't want that but just oppose the new low because of you socialist ideals, then I suggest you shut up before you embarrass yourself even more.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Ditto I agree with you 100%

      November 4, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      "This means fewer rights for womem, mutilation for stealing, stoning to death for adultery"

      I thought you were referring to christianity for a second.
      Oh wait, you actually are and probably dont even realize it.

      November 4, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Paul stop making an absolute idiot of yourself; Christianity doesn't practice it. Jesus rebuked the men who were going to stone a woman. He told them that the first stone had to come from the one among them who was without sin. After the rabble left, He told the woman to go and sin no more. Jesus in the New Testament overturned a lot of the violence found in the Old Testament. People need to read more than cereal boxes!

      November 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gilbert

    I fully agree with Charles. Could not have worded it better than "BRUTAL" you dumb religious fanatics sickos.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Donna


    For your information Oklahoma didnt produce Timothy McVeigh, New York did!
    Born April 23, 1968(1968-04-23)
    Lockport, New York, U.S.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. greggo

    1.5 billion muslims? Wow!! We're gonna need a BIG bomb! How 'bout we advertise a one day only virgin sale in say...California, and drop that bugger there.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. WhiteKong78

    I love shawarma and hommous, yet I hate sharia law. I'm such a Xenophobic racist.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Denise Miller

    Please do not include all of the people of Oklahoma when you wish to write something insulting. There are some of us that are against many things that happen in this state. As English being out official language, I find it rude. They say it may cut some cost because we do not have to print everything in more than one language, but are we going to get people to work here that can't understand the language that well? Now, I know you're thinking that I'm referring to the illegal immigrants that "stole" Americans jobs. Jobs those Americans would never do, or do so well. I think we will lose employees because they don't understand what is happening. This country is one big potluck filled with so many incredible cultues. To try to " Americanize" and make everyone speak English is ruining what out country is made of.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      First Denise; it is spelled "cultures", please use spell check or a dictionary. Secondly, Why do you assume today's immigrants are less intelligent than those that came before them? I have a friend whose grandmother spoke Cherokee, and her grandfather spoke Gaelic when they first met. They Both learned English. How many languages do today's immigrants use? States really DO have to reduce costs in these difficult economic times. As a child, we shared one set of school books for two children to use. One used the books in the morning, and the other child used them in the afternoon. You are quite young, but I think you can understand about limited funds. I do not underestimate the intelligence of our newcomers, nor their ability to adapt to our language and culture. If our ancestors had stuck to their own language; I would have to speak at least 10-12 languages in my own family! As for culture, parts of me would be totally at odds with the rest of me. Why are immigrants here if they do not want to be American?

      November 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    Oh, I'm so tolerant
    I want Sharia law
    non-Muslim subjects are obliged to comply with Islamic rules,
    Ald al the filthy gays will be lynched
    And the Jews will all be slaughtered,
    The rest must convert or pay jizya tax
    and must not be greeted,
    infidels are distinguished from Muslims in dress,
    and must keep to the side of the street
    beating women is OK
    and woman's rights are thank god a thing of the past
    new churches are forbidden to build
    No more bacon and ribs
    No Bud and Miller
    Cuz American way of life is thank god a thing of the past
    Oh I'm so tolerant, I give it all up, just to be so liberal and social
    Oh, I make myself feel so good

    November 4, 2010 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      That was wickedly funny, even though this is really a serious problem.

      November 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    I'm completely opposed to sharia law but doesn't the First Amendment cover that?

    November 4, 2010 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
    • KATIE

      have you read it?

      November 4, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tory

    Hey, TheDude, I'm with you, as soon as we get down to "The Meat On The Bone" of this discussion..... CNN Moderators step right in and exert their will to oppress my posts. I rewrote Three Times, and submitted. I guess some people, including CNN CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH, COWARDS & TRAITORS OF AMERICA.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. DfromthePeg

    Why are people calling Oklahoma stupid? Don't answer that, I know why. It's because those calling them stupid are in lock step with the ACLU and CAIR who, in my opinion, encourage separatism and sedition in the United States. Shari'a does not belong in the US because it encourages separatism.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Daniel

    Ballot measures like this only show how weak America as a nation is during hard times. During prosperous times, we wave the big #1 foam finger in the world's face and act like we can't be brought down; but once we fall, rather than try to get back up, we act like the rest of the world is out to get us.

    Yes I know, I just questioned America and didn't put it on the Golden Pedestal – therefore I am an evil big government socialist/fascist/marxist/communist/Nancy Pelosi-loving liberal. I must want healthcare for everyone, marriage for everyone, guns for no one, and want to eliminate your free speech and take away your civil liberties Woodrow Wilson-style. What a joke conservatives have become; Barry Goldwater would cringe if he saw the Republican Party today.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Just because you believe someone is out to get you, doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you.

      November 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    By the way, those of you bashing Christianity need to realize just how ignorant your comments truly are. I believe in separation of church and state. This law applies to that belief. As far as the English only goes, kudos to Oklahoma. I believe that if I go to France, I should learn French. If I go to a Spanish speaking country, I should learn some Spanish. If someone wants to come to America, they should learn some English. It's not that difficult. My boss is a Muslim and a great guy. I have no quarrels with him and he knows I'm a Christian. So before someone calls me a bigot, they should know I am the furthest thing from one. I am also an Independent with Republican leanings so before you generalize, criticise, and demonize, perhaps you should line up all your facts.

    November 4, 2010 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tory

    I just saw this report on the NEWS. Of course CNN isn't carrying it yet. You may want to pause your Pontificating for a minute and catch up. Keep in mind it's YOUR Amin issueing here.
    YouTube Yanks Radical Cleric's Jihad Videos
    Nov 04, 2010 7:51 AM EDT
    (page 1 of 3) View Entire Story
    Popular video-sharing site YouTube has removed videos featuring calls to holy war by an Al Qaeda-linked Muslim cleric after pressure from British and U.S. officials.
    I suggest you read it.

    November 4, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9