An amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic or international law in their decisions discriminates against religions, a federal appeals court said today. The justices said a Muslim community leader, Muneer Awad, has the right to sue over First Amendment concerns. The court in Denver upheld a lower-court order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70% of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.
The amendment read, in part: "The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law." Backers argued that the amendment intended to ban all religious laws, that Islamic law was merely named as an example. The court disagreed, noting that Sharia was mentioned in two places. "When the law that voters wish to enact is likely unconstitutional, their interests do not outweigh Mr. Awad's in having his constitutional rights protected." (Read more Sharia law stories.)