Federal Court Strikes Down Oklahoma Sharia and International Law Ban

August 15, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal court today struck down an Oklahoma state constitutional amendment that would have prohibited state courts from considering what is broadly described as Islamic "Sharia law" and "international law."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) challenged the amendment on behalf of Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR's Oklahoma chapter. 

"We're very pleased with the result, which will help secure religious freedom and equality for all Oklahomans," said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "Throughout the case, the state couldn't present even a shred of evidence to justify this discriminatory, unnecessary measure."

The proposed constitutional amendment also would have barred state courts from applying or considering "international law."

"The court got it right," said Chandra Bhatnagar, senior attorney with the ACLU's Human Rights Program. "The Supreme Court has held that international law is part of our law. Moreover, our Constitution requires ratified treaties to be treated as the supreme law of the land. Preventing courts from considering foreign or international law raises serious questions about the separation of powers and the independence of courts and judges."

"This law unfairly singled out one faith and one faith only," said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. "This amendment was nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. We’re thrilled that it has been struck down."

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