Oklahoma does right thing for wrong reason

I can’t tell you how depressed I was after the last US mid-term elections. I likened it at the time to watching a good friend go back to her alcoholic, abusive ex-boyfriend because the new guy wasn’t enough of a “bad boy”. The Republican party in the United States has completely shed any air of credibility as a party interested in the long-term good of the United States. They’ve completely devolved into politicking, abrogating any responsibility they have to act as leaders, grabbing after power instead by ramping up the fear and hatred of an uneducated populace.

Rome is falling, my friends, and it is doing so to the clamoring approval of the mindless horde.

Luckily (or perhaps tragically, since it prolongs the fall) there is a system of checks and balances present in the United States that places limits on the ability of the people to be the authors of their own destruction:

A US federal judge has stopped Oklahoma putting into effect a constitutional amendment to bar courts from considering Islamic law in judgements. Judge Vicky Miles-Lagrange granted an injunction against the certification of the results of State Question 755.

To provide a bit of background, there was a ballot amendment during the midterm election that was passed, banning the recognition of Sharia law or any international law in Oklahoma courts. Of course there was nobody actually proposing that Sharia law be recognized, and the courts already ignore international law (on jurisdictional grounds), but if you whip people into a xenophobic frenzy, they’ll pass whatever law they want as long as it makes them feel safer.

But then… then the stupid sets in:

“Plaintiff has sufficiently set forth a personal stake in this action by alleging that he lives in Oklahoma, is a Muslim, that the amendment conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward his religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities,” she explained.

That’s the shakiest possible grounds for a legal decision I’ve ever heard. Basically because the law would hurt people’s feelings, it’s therefore invalid? I’m not a soothsayer, but I can certainly see this ruling (if it isn’t kicked on appeal) being used as precedent to protect some crybaby Christian group saying that failing to teach Creationism in schools “conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility” towards their belief in a 10,000 year-old planet.

The real reason this law should be off the books? Because it’s stupid. It’s an entirely redundant law that solves exactly zero problems. The inclusion of any religious law would violate the US Constitution (and likely the Oklahoma state constitution), and would not survive a court challenge. There is absolutely no need to pass a law specifically against Sharia law.

Seriously, America… dump the Republicans. They only end up hurting you in the end.

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  1. says

    I disagree. I think that the judgement was poorly stated, but under their constitutional requirement of church-state separation, the proposed initiative is illegal as it represents the state passing a law for or against one religion to the exclusion of others.

    The creationist analogy is also wrong because the same amendment prevents the government from teaching Christianity. If the government passed a law that banned teaching of creationism in the home, it would also fall under the first amendment.

    The ballot initiative was xenophobic, stupid, redundant, and discriminatory. Only the latter was grounds for the courts to toss it out though.

  2. says

    Seriously, America… dump the Republicans. They only end up hurting you in the end.

    hey, you don’t have to tell me. I live in Vermont. 😉

  3. says

    That shit’s fucked up.

    The ballot is not a particularly effective measure, since it is (as Ian points out) unconstitutional and should have been thrown out on those grounds. There is already a preventative measure to prevent sharia law, and it is called the First Amendment. I am now concerned that Canada is vulnerable to sharia courts being granted recognition, because we have no such statue in our Charter. There should be one legal code, and all people should follow it regardless of their beliefs (or lack thereof).

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