If you thought only U.S. laws ruled the land, you thought wrong — at least according to a crazy decision recently handed down by a federal judge in Oklahoma.
On November 2, Sooner State voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that directs courts to “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and forbids “courts from considering or using international law” or “Sharia law.” Muneer Awad responded by filing suit, and Judge Micki Miles-LaGrange, a Clinton appointee, promptly issued a temporary restraining order, putting the people’s voice on hold.
The plaintiff asserted that his First Amendment rights would be violated if Oklahoma’s constitution was amended to implement this ban against consideration of Sharia law. The amendment, he claimed, would constitute official “disapproval” of his religion. Moreover, it would invalidate his last will and testament, which incorporates various teachings of Mohammed.
Judge Miles-LaGrange bought the argument that banning foreign law would inhibit the practice of religion — in this case, Islam — and lead to excessive government entanglement with religion. She confused the practice of religion — which is not banned under the referendum — with the imposition of a foreign body of law derived from Islam.
In coming to these erroneous conclusions, the judge misunderstands the purpose of the First Amendment, as expressed by the Founders. The Establishment Clause was solely intended to prevent a national church from being funded with tax dollars, and to prevent the government from favoring any particular religious sect.
James Madison, the chief proponent behind the enactment of our Bill of Rights, said the Establishment Clause meant that “Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.” Judge Miles-LaGrange does not explain how Oklahoma’s amendment would “inhibit” a Muslim from worshiping in his own way as dictated by his own conscience. Nor does she explain how it would prohibit a Muslim from abiding by Sharia law if he chose to do so.