Oklahoma Ruling Exposes Legal Issues with Sharia Law Bans
After a proposed constitutional amendment to ban Oklahoma courts from using Islamic Sharia law fell in the federal appeals court, experts around the country examined the tenuous legal nature of these measures.
The International Business Times wrote:
Many legal experts are incredulous at the idea that Sharia law could come to supplant American law. Raj Bhala, a professor at the University of Kansas Law School and an expert in Sharia and international law, called the fact that judges must cite recognized sources of U.S. law in rendering their decisions "law school 101 material." Proponents of measures to ban Sharia cite family law as a potential gray area, frequently pointing to a case in which a New Jersey judge cited religion in refusing to grant a woman a restraining order against her abusive husband. But that decision was quickly reversed.
Bhala said that the authors of the amendment may have been motivated by a fear of judicial activism, not in the traditional sense of liberal judges legislating from the bench but in the sense of judges using foreign or international law as "supplementary guidance" in their reasoning. Judges in such cases would still be basing their decisions in the U.S. legal system.
"If we were talking about the French or German civil code this wouldn't be an issue," Bhala said. "But given the post 9/11 context, which has catalyzed Islamophobia, there's a particular fear of going down the slippery slope when it comes to the Sharia."