Oklahoma anti-Islam law blocked by federal judge

A federal judge ruled Monday that Oklahoma cannot implement a newly passed law banning the state’s courts from using Islamic law as a basis for deciding cases.

The amendment to the state’s constitution was passed with more than 70 percent of the vote earlier this month. An official with the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations immediately sued to block the law’s implementation.

Monday’s ruling is not final but does bar the state from implementing the amendment until a final ruling is issued.

The New York Times reported this morning:

It conveys a message, she (the judge) said, that the state favors one religion or particular belief over others. The federal courts have long held that such a message violates the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting the establishment of a state religion, she said.

“While defendants contend that the amendment is merely a choice-of-law provision that bans state courts from applying the law of other nations or cultures — regardless of what faith they may be based on, if any — the actual language of the amendment reasonably, and perhaps more reasonably, may be viewed as specifically singling out Shariah law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff’s faith,” the judge wrote…

Since the lawsuit was filed, the main mosques in Tulsa and Oklahoma City have received a flood of hate mail, including one video of a man destroying a mosque.

“As the judge pointed out, the will of the people is not always just,” said Imad Enchassi, the imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “The will of the people seems like it was manipulated by a well-funded campaign of hate, bigotry and xenophobia.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal has posted an online poll asking readers if they think the Oklahoma law is Constitutional. So far, WSJ readers side with Oklahoma voters by a two-thirds majority.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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