The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an injunction by a federal district court preventing the implementation of Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia law amendment while it is being challenged in court. The amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution was approved by voters by a wide margin in 2010, but a lawsuit was immediately filed and the court issued an injunction against the state certifying the result until the full case could be heard and a ruling issued. The state then appealed that preliminary injunction, which has now been upheld. You can read the full ruling here.
This is hardly surprising. The appeals court only really examines whether the lower court judge abused their discretion in issuing the injunction, they don’t rule on the merits of the case (neither did the district judge, for that matter). This is what the ballot language for the amendment said:
This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and
independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.
The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include
international agreements, as well as treaties.
Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed.
The main issue was standing, with the state arguing that the plaintiff didn’t have standing to bring a suit. But the court said that the state had failed to distinguish between the kinds of standing that are allowed in different kinds of suits, and that the plaintiff had standing on the Establishment Clause challenge and that is all that is necessary to uphold the injunction.
But this case is still pending trial in the district court and that will be very interesting. There are lots of cases where the court must consider international law, as in a case that involves a treaty obligation, or even Islamic law, such as where two parties might sign a contract agreeing to be bound by Islamic law in making some transaction or business relationship.