November 10, 2010

Sharia ban could ban tribal law

In Banning Sharia Law, Oklahoma Voters May Have Voted Against Native American Rights, TooOklahoma voters recently celebrated the novelty of becoming the first state to ban the non-existent threat of Sharia law. Under the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, Oklahoma courts are forbidden from considering or using international and Sharia law in their rulings. Beyond the obvious First Amendment problems with the law, in their zealous “war” against the phantom Sharia menace, Oklahomans might find unexpected collateral damage to the Ten Commandments, businesses, and now, Native Americans.

Oklahoma has the second largest population of Native Americans in the U.S and law experts like Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton point out that language in the law banning courts from looking at “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if applied to tribal legal cases, as the tribes are considered sovereign nations. In fact, the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an official memo on October 20 explaining how the “lack of specific tribal law language” could “damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes” and “starkly reminds [the Commission] that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and back of other nations and cultures, namely, ou[r] tribes.”
Tribes fear side effects of SQ 755

By Trevor Brown“This could blossom into a major threat to the sovereignty of our Indian nations,” Narcomey said. “There really is just a remote chance it could happen, but Pandora’s box can be opened with just that one case.”

The state question garnered national attention when Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit against the state question on grounds it unfairly targets his religion. A U.S. District court judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday to stop the state question from taking effect.

Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton, along with many other legal experts, said he thinks there are First Amendment problems by singling out the one religion. But Helton said the lesser-discussed language created by the state question that courts cannot look to the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if it is applied to tribal legal cases.

Helton, who specializes in American Indian law, said the “ambiguous” language could be interpreted in a way for the state to reject rulings based on tribal laws. He said an “opportunistic” person could argue tribal laws do not apply in arbitration cases or when the state is called to resolve a dispute.
Comment:  For more on American prejudice against Islam, see Racists vs. Reformers on Islam and Islamophobia Just Like Stephen's.


dmarks said...

"Oklahoma courts are forbidden from considering or using international and Sharia law in their rulings. Beyond the obvious First Amendment problems with the law"

I find the law to be a strengthening of the First Amendment. There should be no religious dogma coloring court rulings.

Of course, the problem with it is that the wording of the law does not apply to Christianity or Judaeism as well, and it should

Anonymous said...

Actually, the law doesn't have First Amendment problems. The First Amendment prevents courts from using Sharia law anyway. The law does have one First Amendment challenge, for not applying to other religions just as well.

And of course, no court in the United States has used Sharia law.

Burt said...

Oklahoma is painfully racists and ignorant in its complete cultural and social make-up.

A state that calls itself, "Native Oklahoma" on its license plates with a statue of a warrior shooting an arrow into the sky keeps the native population on a shelf for tourism, but forget human rights, sovereignty or prosperity for indigenous people or anyone for that matter.

This state has the worst statistics and record for domestic and child abuse, incest and childrens rights, civil rights violations, unemployment, job development, education, political scandals and corruption as well as an ongoing incompetent forensics agency they cannot seem to solve.

If you want to see a state that is controlled completely by the Christian right wing Republican extremist, go to Oklahoma and see the clear divisions between the rich and the working poor?

Oklahoma is gonna end up making itself a target for terrorist one of these days.

I was 25 miles away from downtown OKC when Tim McViegh bombed the Murrah Federal building and does anyone remember besides me that the initial report was that there were two Middle Easterners that were blamed?

Instead, it was Howdy Doody that did it in the name of Christianity and for the preservation of the white race?

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Campaign Against Sharia Law a Threat to Indian Country

The growing movement in the United States to ban the use of international law and Islam’s Sharia law in state courts sets a dangerous precedent for Indian country, spiritual leaders and legal authorities say.

In the past year, anti-Sharia laws have been passed or introduced in more than a dozen states—Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee are among the states that have passed bills restricting judges from consulting Sharia in their rulings, and Michigan is the most recent to introduce a similar bill.

The movement against Sharia (or Shariah) not only targets Muslim Americans and their First Amendment right to freedom of religion, but also threatens American Indian sovereignty, law and the government-to-government relationship between indigenous nations and state and federal governments, says Gabriel Galanda, a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and partner in the law firm Galanda Broadman of Seattle. “The various state laws being passed or proposed would quite literally prevent any state court judge from ever considering the laws of sovereign Indian nations, including tribal common law,” he says. “Anti-Sharia laws also fly in the face of the United States’s recent adoption of the [U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], especially insofar as such laws could disallow state courts from ever considering the declaration and its import domestically.”

Rob said...

Appeals Court: Ban on Sharia and International Law ‘Likely Unconstitutional’

The ruling “is a victory for the Constitution and for the right of all Americans to freely practice their faith,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who is co-counsel on the case.

The amendment would not only ban Sharia law, but also any consideration of international law, including tribal law. It said, in part, “This measure amends the State Constitution. 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.”