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. MPMovement

    Check out the Me Party Movement.

    November 4, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tory

    Apparantly, our President, and British Gov, are concerned this guy's calls for holy war might insight violence and "Radicalize" Muslums to act. But, I'm sure that couldn't happen here in the USA, Right?? OUR Mulims aren't like that, at least MOST of them, just those pesky extremists. Like OUR Radical Christians, there's only a few like that, but wait...... When was the last time you heard of a radical Christian Killing any body? Perhaps, The Crusades?? Oh Thats right, they did burn those innocent people they thought were Witches in the 17 or 18 Hundreds !!!! Those bad old Christions!!

    November 4, 2010 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • B-ran

      Let's see christians killing recently...
      How about right-wing pro-lifers shooting/bombing abortion clinics throughout the states.

      November 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gsw

    The Shariah is already active in Europe. No, I do not mean the Shariah Courts of Britzain – an example being used constantly – I am talking of the less obvious 'colouring' of law by slamic interference.

    Example 1: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is charged with defaming religious belief, that is she told the truth about Shariah treating women as being inferior to men, quoted the Quoran to show why and how (Mo said so) and upset muslims who consider that a Kufir has no right to criticise 'their' ideology.
    Under Shariah law, the crime of not treating islam with respect (this includes Mohammed, his sayings and all three religious books) is of course death. In Austria this is not an option, so they are going for 3 years in Jail.
    She is NOT guilty of hate speech, she is guilty of criticising islam! If she looses this case, then the Shariah Law will have been upheld in Austria – against Freedom of Speech.

    Example 2: Geert Wilders is currently in court charged with 'offending' muslims because he does not agree with their ideology and refuses to recognise their superiority. He thinks they should not be allowed to hide their faces in public or sell/pimp for their daughters, and that they should obey Dutch law.
    Again, in the Shariah these statements are a capital crime – as the Judge said: It does not matter if what he says is true, it is still illegal because it 'upsets' muslims.

    Example 3: UK has arrested 6 boys for burning an English copy of the quoran – which they purchased. This is a desecration, illegal under Shariah. Burning bibles owned by the burners is not illegal.

    Example 4: USA CAIR is frequently litigating against 'shariah' crimes, freedom of speech etc. Currently suing bloggers for saying they do not want Shariah in the USA because it treats women badly and is applied to non-muslims.
    This is not a religious law like others, when applied it is also binding for non muslims.

    Any criticism of Islam, the quoran , Mohammed, or muslims is a crime.

    November 4, 2010 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tory

    PS. Nick, my "Pontificating" remark was not aimed at you. Only those putting down America. I know somebody will try to discredit and dismiss all of us horrible evil people who love and cherish our FREEDOM and OUR way of Life and Liberty..... Just watch!!

    November 4, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tory

    @GSA. Thankyou for your insightful writing. And for taking the time and trouble on our behalf. Those are indeed, excellent examples of that which most supporters of unaware. Many Americans think they will be able to pick and choose their way around Sheria Law..... You know, that FREEDOM they take for granted in the EVIL USA. Imagine the look of supprise and the crying we will hear when they realize they gave away their own Freedom, and Islamic Law IS BINDING UPON THEM. And to think they laughed and ridiculed us for trying to warn them ! Oh well, they can't say we didn't try.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tory

    Actually, YouTube and our Admin (Obama) are doing us a diservice removing these videos, as it just lowers our AWARNESS of these calls for Cold Blooded Murder of Men, Women and CHILDREN in the US. That's right America...... Go back to sleep, everything is fine and dandy...... FOOLS!!

    November 4, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeffersons Wall

    Shouldn't the 1st Amendment, properly applied, already cover this? Sharia law is religious law, which is already forbidden- "no law respecting an establishment of religion". If anything, this sharia ban is just a narrow interpretation of an already generally-applicable law, and as such, should be completely unnecessary, except to make some sort of a point.

    BTW- the exact same 'separation of church and state' which prevents a government agency from giving special status to the Ten Commandments, also protects us in exactly the same way from Sharia law.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • John Tuttle

      Well spoken. Enforce the laws already on the books, rather than gin up new stuff that just looks good long enough to get someone elected.

      November 4, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    "courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments."
    Why should courts ever consider the Ten Commandments when dealing with legal issues? Forgetting the fact that only 30% of the "commandments" are actually illegal, it's lunacy to base laws on random religious beliefs.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tory

    There I go, FORGETING again!!! Most Americans don't believe it could be truth, and they would rather dispute even the thought of it. It's "Just more paranoia and hate speech.. Right??? ,,........... Riiiiiiiiiiiight !!!!

    November 4, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tory

    Yes, Mr. Jefferson, you are correct. But that doesent stop them from tying you up in LEGAL LITAGATION which our own Government will, by law, be required to provide for them. It will take years and cost taxpayers MILLIONS to uphold our own laws which they will expoit here, as they are doing now in every Country who has been nieve enough to let this happen. Therefore, they accomplish THEIR GOAL, at our expense and FREEDOM. Are you listening, AMERICA. WAKE UP, Damnit !!

    November 4, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tory

    Here is the link to the story about the Obama admin requesting YouTube to remove this information. I know most will discredit and dismiss it, seeing how it's only "THE NEW YORK TIMES" reporting.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark B. Morrow

      Nothing in the article refers to the Obama Administration. Only Rep Anthony Weiner and Sen. Lieberman are mentioned. Weiner, BTW, is married to a Muslim.

      November 4, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      i'm not really sure what your point is.. some congressmen classified it as hate speech (which it was) and dangerous(which it also was) and youtube said it violated there policies (which it did), so they pulled it offline (which was appropriate). sooooo.. is there a controversy here??

      November 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christophla

      Tory, do you even bother to do your homework? or are you simply a talking head.

      November 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • peg dash fab

      Q: How can you tell Tory is making up facts?
      A: By the clicking sound of the keyboard.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Angela Frank

    I admit that as and a white christian, I know little about Sharia Law and also have found that to really understand it, one would need to research for years. I guess from what I have read about it, is if non-muslims can be held accountable under Sharia Law and thus punished under Sharia Law. I feel from what I have learned that, yes, only muslims are held to Sharia Law, but I have seen that atleast in Islamic states, that non-muslims are held accountable under Sharia Law. Although I understand thery want to handle Muslim vs. Muslim issues under their own law, I don't know how the U.S. government would be able to step in if abuses were indicated from those subject to Sharia Law. Some suggest that women's rights are restricted and punishments are more severe. I would like to know more about this before people start critisizing those that voted against its implication in Oklahoma.

    November 4, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • *happy 'merican

      Thank you Angela. No one can tell you to stop.....

      November 4, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Wow, AL...good try at trolling.

      The central issue here is the separation of church and state – if we uphold that, then everyone, regardless of religion, is held to the same federal and state laws. Phrasing the law as banning Islam and enforcing a strict English-only policy makes the whole campaign look more then a little xenophobic.

      I'd like to see politics get a little more constructive and a little less angry. I love that Angela was polite and mentioned that we should all know more before we pass judgement; great post, and good luck with your research!

      November 4, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      "Angry Liberal" is clearly a troll, and a lousy one at that.

      November 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ken

      Angela, I to can say I know little of Shaira Law, BUT, I see the danger in allowing law from any other Country being applied in "The United States" for ANY reason as dividing this Nation even more. This all started when we allowed groups to be renamed as "Whatever-American" I do believe that all have the right to learn and practice their culture, BUT not change this Nation to become theirs.

      November 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Love My Freedom

      What is Shariah Law?

      Here is a little of it: If you steal a dollar, the penalty is the same as a thousand dollars: the cutting off of the hand. If a woman is caught in adultery she must be stoned to death. If a person leaves Islam and say becomes a Christian they are to be killed! Any and all of these supersede our laws.

      I suggest if they want to practice Shariah Law they go back to the countries where Shariah Law is the law of the land. If they want to live here, they should obey the laws of our land. This is the only group I can think of that has come into our country and demanded we change our laws to suit them. If everyone did that, we would have anarchy!

      November 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Angela Frank

    Also, are the Muslims asking for Sharia Law to be allowed into the courts or are they asking for the right to have their own court system?

    November 4, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • TO

      Neither, people are just paranoid towards Muslims

      November 4, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Quezz

      There are no Muslims in the U.S. asking for either, Angela.

      November 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      For those who say that Muslims are not asking for Sharia need only look at the Texas Islamic Court.

      In a recent decision, the Second Court of Appeals of the State of Texas defered judjement in an appeal until they receved a ruling from the Texas Islamic Court.

      Sharia law courts/councils also exist in Michigan and New York. They have been deferred to by judges in business and divorce cases.

      November 5, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • ted


      Have you actually read the ruling?

      The court did not defer 'judjement'. It reversed a lower courts decision to stay litigation. The court also compelled the parties to arbitrate their martial disputes – which the appellants originally agreed to do before marriage. In this instance, the couple agreed to arbitrate via an Islamic court.

      In Texas, if both parties agree to arbitrate, a court will require the parties to resolve their issues through arbitration. It doesn't matter if the parties use the Texas islamic court, private attorneys, neighbors, or some Kinkos clerk . If the initial agreement to arbitrate is legit, a court will honor that agreement.

      In short, the courts are not defering to Sharia law. In this Texas case, the courts are actually following the law, very closely in fact.

      November 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SeizeNN

    How did this nation come to be filled with so many idiots? If it is not the law of the land, a judge can not consider it to be law. There is zero need for a law requiring judges to not consider law they were not going to consider anyway. Why stop at Sharia, why not also include German law or Russian law. Then there is the question of what to do if there is overlap. will the coinciding law need to be ignored because it is also Sharia.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • *happy 'merican

      Do you remember the florida issue with a woman refusing to take her driver id picture without her burka....

      November 4, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      SeizeNN: I think the issue is that a person could cite their 1st amendment rights in defense of applying Sharia Law, even though it's not something a judge would normally consider. It's more paranoia than anything I think, but there is potentially a significant legal conundrum there.

      November 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sad law student in oklahoma

      The law says they can't consider any international law either. I wonder if they know that the idea of trusts originally came from Islamic traditions?

      November 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerry K.

    These people who are attacking over this are NOT educated as they claim to be. They don't know anything about how Sharia law works and are only towing their party line agenda which is to turn the United States into a Euro-style socialist state that gives more power to foreign governments than it does to its own people. These people discriminate against anyone who is Christian and you can bet they would vote against any kind of Christian law.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • stu

      What about separation of Church and State do you not understand? You bet I would vote against any blatantly Christian law, just as I would vote against any religious law. Making it specifically anti-Islam is unnecessary, redundant, looks very xenophobic, and is based only on fear.

      November 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • its like no one has a mind anymore

      That is is totally ridiculous. Why would liberals have such an agenda? We live here too. It doesn't even make sense that you think liberals would have that as an agenda item. Why would we be trying to mess it up here? No major party advocates a socialist state nor giving more rights to people outside the country than to those in the country. It appears that you have been educated by the alternate conservative reality universe of Fox, Limbaugh et al about what liberals want and think.

      November 6, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
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