Parry on Oklahoma’s Save Our State Amendment

John T. Parry (Lewis & Clark Law School) has posted Oklahoma’s Save Our State Amendment: Two Issues for the Appeal. The abstract follows. –JKH

          This short essay discusses two issues relating to the pending appeal in the litigation over Oklahoma’s Save Our State Amendment.

        First, the district court enjoined certification of the election results, with the result that none of the amendment can go into effect, not even the portions that have nothing to do with “Sharia Law” (which is the focus of the litigation). This essay suggests that the 10th circuit must consider whether the portions of the amendment that are unconstitutional can be severed from the rest (an issue that is not raised in any of the briefs), and I argue that the court should certify this issue to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Second, the district court made a finding of fact that “Sharia Law” — which the amendment equates with “Islamic Law” — is not really law. This finding is not necessary to support the district court’s religion clauses ruling. It is also (1) incorrect and (2) ultimately supportive of the arguments made by supporters of the amendment. I suggest that the 10th circuit reject this finding.

California Senate Committee Approves Bill Blocking Future Efforts to Ban Circumcision

The Washington Post reports that a California Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously has approved a bill that would prevent local jurisdictions from banning circumcision.  The committee action was in response to San Francisco’s effort to ban circumcision without exception for religious practice or parental choice. (For more on the proposed ban in San Francisco, please see my earlier comment).  The bill, expected to go before the Senate soon, proposes that circumcision, as a medical procedure, is a statewide concern that may not be regulated at the local level.  If approved by the Senate, the bill would leave the circumcision decision up to the parents. The bill would also eliminate any possibility that the district court’s decision to remove the ban from San Francisco’s November ballot might be overturned on appeal. –YAH

Turkey to Return Some Seized Properties to Religious Minorities

From Reuters’s valuable FaithWorld blog, a story about Turkey’s announcement Sunday that it will restore or pay compensation for real property it seized from minority religious groups in 1936.  In that year, Turkey required minority religious foundations to register their properties; the government seized several of these properties, including schools and hospitals, claiming that they were not being used.  Since 1974, a government decree has prevented minority foundations from registering new real property.

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the seizure of these properties as illegal, and the European Union has been pressuring Turkey to return them.  Prior attempts to return the properties ran into nationalist Read more

Laycock’s “Religious Liberty: The Free Exercise Clause”

Doug Laycock (Virginia) is one of the most important scholars of religious liberty writing today.  My own view is that his treatment of the Free Exercise Clause, and especially his idea of “substantive neutrality,” is among the most penetrating, original, and persuasive ever conceived.  It’s therefore a pleasure for me to announce the publication of the second volume of Doug’s four-volume tour-de-force on the subject, Religious Liberty, Volume Two: The Free Exercise Clause (Eerdmans 2011).  The first volume in the series is also excellent and may be found at the publisher’s site.  The publisher’s description of the book follows.  — MOD

One of the most respected and influential scholars of religious liberty in our time, Douglas Laycock has argued many crucial religious liberty cases in the U.S. appellate courts and Supreme Court. His noteworthy scholarly and popular writings are being collected in four comprehensive volumes under the title Religious Liberty.

This second volume, The Free Exercise Clause, includes articles, amicus briefs, and court documents relating to regulatory exemptions under the Constitution, the right to church autonomy, and the rights of non-mainstream religions. Dealing with religious schools and colleges, sexual abuse cases, the rights of Hare Krishnas and Scientologists, the landmark decision Employment Division v. Smith, and more, this will be a valuable reference for churches, schools, and other religious organizations as they exercise their constitutionally protected freedom.

“Islam, Law, and Identity” (Diamantides & Gearey eds.)

This collection of essays, Islam, Law, and Identity (Routledge 2011), edited by Marinos Diamantides (Birkbeck) and Adam  Gearey (Birkbeck), looks like an excellent pathway into many fascinating and pressing issues.  The publisher’s description follows.  — MOD

The essays brought together in Islam, Law and Identity are the product of a series of interdisciplinary workshops that brought together scholars from a plethora of countries. Funded by the British Academy the workshops convened over a period of two years in London, Cairo and Izmir. The workshops and the ensuing papers focus on recent debates about the nature of sacred and secular law and most engage case studies from specific countries including Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Pakistan and the UK. Islam, Law and Identity also addresses broader and over-arching concerns about relationships between religion, human rights, law and modernity. Drawing on a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches, the collection presents law as central to the complex ways in which different Muslim communities and institutions create and re-create their identities around inherently ambiguous symbols of faith. From their different perspectives, the essays argue that there is no essential conflict between secular law and Shari`a but various different articulations of the sacred and the secular. Islam, Law and Identity explores a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the tensions that animate such terms as Shari`a law, modernity and secularization.