Cultural Revolutions

Sharia Scores

On November 2, Oklahomans amended their constitution to prohibit their state courts from “look[ing] to the precepts of other nations or cultures” when adjudicating a case.  The amendment specifically prohibits consideration of “international law or Sharia Law.”  State Question 755, as the amendment is known, garnered the support of 70 percent of the citizenry.

A few weeks later, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, claiming that the people violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, enjoined the State Board of Elections from certifying the results for State Question 755 (Awad v. Ziriax).  This injunction is the first step in an effort to overturn the people’s choice of law for their state courts.

State Question 755 was prompted, in part, by American courts’ increasing reliance on foreign law and the appearance of sharia (Islamic law) in parts of the United States.  The use of foreign law is best evidenced by recent Supreme Court decisions.  For example, in Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Supreme Court held that the execution of mildly retarded murders amounts to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.  In reaching this conclusion, the Court cited a consensus in the “world community” against capital punishment.  When striking down a Texas statute prohibiting homosexual sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the...

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