LL&D Law
Understanding Oklahoma's Prohibition on the Use of International Law - Part 1

by Susan B. Loving
5/24/2011 2:12:00 PM


     Last fall, Oklahoma voters adopted State Question 755, which would have amended the Oklahoma Constitution. However, shortly after the election, a lawsuit was filed asking the court to block the amendment from being implemented. The federal court granted the request, and the issue is now on appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
     The first part of the law is not controversial. It provides Okahoma courts “shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code, [and] federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto[.]” The courts, of course, are always required to consider these laws, when they are applicable to a particular case.
     The second portion of the amendment, however, has created a great deal of controversey. Many legal scholars believe its enforcement could have serious negative consequences on Oklahoma businesses, and far-reaching negative effects both in the United States, and internationally. 
     In that portion, after the amendment provides the courts shall consider the laws cited above, the above-quoted sentence continues that the courts shall consider: “if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law, in making judicial decisions. The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international or Sharia Law. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to all cases before the respective courts including, but not limited to, cases of first impression.”
     Sharia law is strict Islamic law. It is designed to guide devout Muslims in their personal and professional dealings. Although scholars disagree even as to what precepts are actually a part of Sharia law, some people claim it is used by terrorists to justify limits on women's rights and harsh punishments, including amputation and stoning.
     Of course, state and federal laws in the United States forbid discrimination against women, and cruel and unusual punishment, such as amputation and stoning. It is unclear where the suggestion originated, that a court in the United States could or would disregard these laws in favor of any religious precept that contradicted them.
     Next week we will continue our discussion of State Question 755, and its possible effect on Oklahoma businesses.



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