On Monday, September 12, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Awad v. Ziriax, a case about the constitutionality of a 2010 law banning Oklahoma courts from citing or using Sharia law.
Oklahoma voters approved a "Save our State" constitutional amendment in November 2010. The law was written to prohibit judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions, reports ABC News.
Later the same month, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order blocking the new law after Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, sued, claiming that his First Amendment constitutional rights were being violated through the condemnation of his faith.
Awad and the American Civil Liberties Union claim that Oklahoma’s amendment, by singling out the Sharia, expresses a government preference for one religion over another in violation of the Constitution.
Attorneys for the state, on the other hand, claim that the injunction against the law is stifling Oklahoma voters’ rights. In their brief on Awad v. Ziriax, state lawyers wrote, “Just as Mr. Awad’s First Amendment rights are fundamental, so too are the voting rights of the 695,000 Oklahomans who voted in favor of the law,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in this case could affect the passage of similar anti-Sharia laws in more than 20 other states.
So how will the court rule? We’re not willing to wager a guess before Monday’s hearing, but we think the Tenth Circuit should stand with the district court on this one. If Sandra Day O’Connor can cite The Music Man in a Supreme Court opinion, (“Pool brought trouble - not to River City, but to the Charleston Naval Base”), we don’t see why Oklahoma judges should be banned from referencing Sharia law in their holdings, neither a Broadway show nor Sharia law would be likely be binding precedent on a U.S. federal court.
- FindLaw’s Tenth Circuit blog (FindLaw)
- Awad v. Ziriax - Amicus Brief of American Jewish Committee, et al. (ACLU)
- Argument Calendar (Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- No Qualified Immunity in Traffic Misdemeanor Warrantless Search (FindLaw’s Tenth Circuit blog)