Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Amendment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a preliminary injunction against an Oklahoma constitutional amendment forbidding consideration of Sharia by its state courts.  The amendment forbade Oklahoma courts from considering international law, the legal precepts of other nations and cultures, and, expressly, Islamic Sharia.  The amendment did not expressly forbid consideration of any other religion’s legal precepts and, thus, the Tenth Circuit determined it violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause because it constituted a government’s disfavoring one religion against others.  See Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982).  The plaintiff had directed in his will that his estate be probated according to Sharia, a directive that would be unenforceable under the amendment.  The Tenth Circuit did not credit Oklahoma’s argument that the amendment forbade considering all religious law:  Based on the amendment’s text, the court determined that it singled out Islam because, again, the amendment expressly mentioned Sharia only.  On remand, the district court must consider whether to make its preliminary injunction permanent.  Read the case, Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10-6273, 2012 WL 50636 (10th Cir. Jan. 10, 2012), here.  (Note that the provision was jingoistically entitled the “Save our State” amendment.)