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10th Cir. Enjoins Oklahoma's Sharia Law Ban

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 11, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Citing the Establishment Clause, the 10th Circuit has upheld an injunction preventing Oklahoma's Sharia law ban from going into effect.

The ban -- a constitutional amendment known as the "Save Our State Amendment" -- was passed by state voters in 2010. It prevents state judges from basing decisions on international and Sharia law.

The amendment mentions no other religion-based codes of conduct.

The court analyzed the Sharia law ban under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which speaks to state-sponsored religious discrimination.

Oklahoma tried to argue that the Establishment Clause does not apply because the Save Our State Amendment does not discriminate among religions. It claimed that Sharia law was only given as an example.

The court responded by pointing to the following clause:

"The courts may uphold ... the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law."

The judges then cited language printed on the ballot:

"Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed."

The court concluded that the Save Our State Amendment is in fact discriminatory. It then went on to analyze the rationale behind the Sharia law ban. Such discrimination is unconstitutional unless it is "closely fitted to the furtherance of any compelling interest."

Oklahoma was unable to cite "any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve." The state also admitted that it knew of no instance where a state judge had applied Sharia law.

Without proof of a compelling state interest, the 10th Circuit had no choice but to enjoin Oklahoma's Sharia law ban.

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