Jeff Musall has it about right in his (subtly-titled) opinion piece, “Oklahoma’s ‘Save Our State’ amendment to ban Sharia law is abominable.”
Here is the news release from the Oklahoma legislature:
States News Service
May 25, 2010 Tuesday
LAWMAKERS ASK VOTERS: SHOULD FOREIGN COURT RULINGS IMPACT OKLAHOMANS’ RIGHTS?
DATELINE: OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
The following information was released by the Oklahoma House of Representatives:
State Rep. Rex Duncan today praised lawmakers for sending voters a proposal that, if approved on Nov. 2, would prevent judicial rulings in foreign countries from impacting local court decisions.
Oklahoma will be the first state in the nation to pass such legislation, but I think others will follow our lead, Duncan, R-Sand Springs, said. Judges in other states and on the federal bench have increasingly turned to citing international law in their court decisions, something I and others feel is grossly inappropriate in a sovereign state such as our own.
House Joint Resolution 1056, by Duncan and state Sen. Anthony Sykes, was approved by the Oklahoma Senate by a vote of 41-2, sending the Save Our State constitutional amendment to the attorney generals office to assign a state question number for Oklahoma voters this fall.
The proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution would require the courts to uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code and federal regulations, Oklahoma Statutes and rules, and established common law.
Oklahomans should not have to worry that their rights could be undermined by foreign court rulings in countries that do not have our respect for individual liberty and justice for all, said Duncan, an attorney who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Our nations laws were developed through a democratic process and should not be negated by an irresponsible judges haphazard reliance on foreign rulings developed in autocratic societies. Oklahoma court decisions should be based on the U.S. Constitution, Oklahoma Constitution, and our state and national laws period.
I have grown concerned with the increasing number of legal decisions where foreign law has been relied on or mentioned in the ruling, said Sykes. By passing this constitutional amendment, Oklahomans can ensure that such decisions have no place in our courts.
The proposed amendment would prohibit all Oklahoma courts from considering the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, even in cases of first impression.
The proposed amendment declares that courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.
Note: For accompanying video: http://www.okhouse.tv/ViewVideo.aspx?VideoID=286
Copyright 2010 States News Service
Here is the video linked from the press release:
As Musall observes:
Make no mistake, the fundamentalists in Oklahoma aren’t looking for secular law to be protected from religious influence. They just want it to be their religion to bring the theocracy.
Contessa Brewer drew this point out clearly in her interview [MSNBC News Live, 11 June 2010] when she asked if the concern would not be to preempt any religious law from governing what should be governed by secular law. Listen for that point in this interview of Rex Duncan (R), co-sponsor in the Oklahoma Senate:
Instead of an amendment that would prohibit use of ANY religious law (Islamic, Christian, or whatever) as the basis of judicial decision making (which would be redundant, since the First Amendment already does that), the discourse behind this law presupposes that Oklahoma and US Federal Law are based on Judeo-Christian law (or “principles”), so that “International Law” gets wrapped up in the same evil burrito with “Sharia Law,” as one form of an alarming threat to the very sovereignty of the United States.
This is continuous with the discourse behind recent changes in the Texas Social Studies standards; for example, this from Donald McLeroy, DDS (acting here after being removed as Chair by the Texas legislature, and being defeated for reelection in his GOP primary):
(Incidentally, the expert testifier McLeroy cites here in support of his amendment is one MerryLynn Gerstenschlager, a “lobbyist and Education Liaison” for the Texas affiliate of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. For those who think of Schlafly as a domestic social-issues activist, this might seem a bit out of her field of play; but those of us who are old enough recognize that she’s returning, here, to her original campaigning against the threat to US sovereignty posed by mainstream Republicans whose despicable openness to international interests was exposed in her earliest books such as Grave Diggers and The Betrayers.)
While it is all well and good to denounce the anti-UN and anti-World Texas social studies standards, those standards are probably pretty harmless in comparison with the potential impact of this Oklahoma ballot initiative. Less conscientious Texas students won’t remember what they were told about sovereignty and the United Nations, and the more conscious students will know that this is a load of crap dumped into the standards by a cabal of right-wing ideologues who had already been rejected by the voters when they did their mischief.
Consider, by contrast, the diabolical cleverness of this ballot initiative. The question of voting “for” or “against” presupposes the reality of the threat, and asks voters only if they want to vote against the threat, or not. Who is going to campaign against prohibiting the imposition of Sharia Law in Oklahoma? If the opposition is not done very skillfully, it could just help to publicize the “for or against” ballot question, without calling attention to the prior question of what’s true, and what is false, about existing or prospective realities.
- from the Edmond Sun
- Here’s the text of the Resolution, and correspondence with the State Attorney General about getting it on the ballot
- Blog posts applauding the intitiative
- on related developments in Louisiana
I need to quit now, and start doing something less unpleasant — like prepping for my Monday colonoscopy!