Judge Extends Restraining Order Blocking Ban On Islamic Law
Plaintiff Muneer Awad says the amendment demonizes and condemns Muslims.
The measure banning the consideration of Islamic law in state courts was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in the Nov. 2 general election.
Federal Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange said the case requires the court to consider two very compelling principles to our democracy.
Ed Murray, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering Sharia and international law remains on temporary hold. A federal judge extended Monday a restraining order for another week while she decides if she will issue a preliminary injunction in the case.
Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange said the court must consider two very compelling principles to our democracy, and she needs more time to weigh all authorities presented before deciding if an injunction is warranted.
The measure was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in the Nov. 2 general election. Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment. Awad said the measure stigmatizes his religion and would invalidate his will.
"Of course, we'd like to have an injunction, however, what we're working for is making sure state question 755 does not become effective," said Awad. "We don't want a law on our books that demonizes and condemns Muslims, and today marks another day that won't happen."
The state argued that Awad would still be allowed to practice his religion as he wished if the amendment went into effect. Awad's attorney spent a great deal of time trying to prove Sharia is not a defined set of laws, but a religious way of life subject to the laws of the country where one lives. He also argued that immediate harm would occur because Awad's last will and testament is based on and quotes Islamic law.
"It's obvious once that becomes effective, a will that reflects my wishes to be buried and my wishes to have my property divided in accordance to my faith, will be invalid in Oklahoma state courts," Awad said.
"You can make reference to your faith all you want in the will," said attorney Kevin Calvey. "What they simply won't do is take your religious beliefs as the standard by which the court is interpreting how you want it to be done. It's a frivolous argument. It's really a frivolous lawsuit."
Attorney Kevin Calvey has filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of four organizations. He agreed with the state that an injunction can only be allowed as extraordinary relief.
"Basically in order to issue a preliminary injunction you, just about have to show that there is absolutely no circumstance in which this law can be applied that would be Constitutional. And that's clearly not the case," Calvey said.
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