Islamic Sharia Law to Be Banned in, ah, Oklahoma
Oklahoma Calls Ban on Islamic Law a 'Preemptive Strike'
By JOEL SIEGEL
June 14, 2010
Oklahoma is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban state judges from relying on Islamic law known as Sharia when deciding cases.
The ban is a cornerstone of a "Save our State" amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that was recently approved by the Legislature.
The amendment -- which also would forbid judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions -- will now be put before Oklahoma's voters in November. Approval is expected.
Oklahoma has few Muslims – only 30,000 out of a population of 3.7 million. The prospect of sharia being applied there seems remote. But a chief architect of the measure, Republican State Rep. Rex Duncan, calls the proposed ban a necessary "preemptive strike" against Islamic law coming to the state.
"I see this in the future somewhere in America," Duncan, who chairs the state House Judiciary Committee, told ABC News. "It's not an imminent threat in Oklahoma yet, but it's a storm on the horizon in other states."
Sharia – which means "path" in Arabic – governs many aspects of Muslim life and influences the legal code in a majority of Muslim countries.
Now here is my question:
What exactly are Oklahomans afraid of by bringing such an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution? And what exactly are Oklahomans thinking they have to take a "pre-emptive strike against?"
...and of course the application of Sharia law was indeed a perfectly normal matter. American courts are governed by American law, but American law has long provided that parties to contracts can provide for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (such as arbitration). American law has likewise long provided that some contractual disputes would be resolved with reference to foreign/international law, especially when the law is expressly provided for by the contract. It doesn't matter whether the arbitration or the foreign law is secular or religious -- secular and religious rules are treated basically equally, on the principle that the parties' contractual choices should be honored unless some extraordinary circumstance makes it unfair to do so.(Eugene Volokh)
...now maybe Sharia law is more likely to be unfair than other systems in certain circumstances; and doubtless some people feel strong social pressure to enter into contracts endorsed by their cultural group. But people feel various kinds of pressure to enter into various kinds of contracts. American law usually enforces the contracts despite talk of pressure and unfairness. There are exceptions, but they are indeed exceptions, and the rule is enforcing contracts. Yet the skies haven't fallen, nor do they seem likely to fall even if more contracts end up being arbitrated or otherwise evaluated under Sharia law.
Do the Oklahomans think Sharia Law will take over our American law courts in matters of contracts, financial and nuptial? What nonsense!
Islamic Law Applied In US Courts
Some wise man once said, "The problem ain't all the things a man don't know; it's all the things he does know that ain't so."