Oklahoma bars imaginary sharia threat

OKLAHOMA BARS IMAGINARY SHARIA THREAT…. I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention how very silly this is.

Oklahoma on Tuesday approved a ballot measure blocking judges from considering Islamic or international law when making a ruling.

Nearly 70 percent of voters in the state cast ballots approving the measure.

The proposition’s sponsor, Republican Rex Duncan, told reporters Tuesday that the proposition is a “preemptive strike” against judges who he worries could be “legislating from the bench or using international law or Sharia law.”

I actually like “preemptive strike” as a clever euphemism for “threat that does not exist.”

Indeed, what proponents of this nonsense apparently forgot is that we already have a law that would prohibit U.S. officials from imposing religious rules on Americans through court orders. It’s called the First Amendment.

CNN noted that legal experts have taken a look at the Oklahoma measure, and have concluded it’s a “mess.”

There has never been a previous case in the state in which Sharia law was applied, said Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tepker called the passage of the measure “a mess” with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.

“Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don’t cry,” he said. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren’t going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin.”

In June, Duncan explained that he was pushing his measure to prevent “liberal judges” who want to “undermine those founding principles” of America. (If Duncan thinks liberals like the precepts of Sharia law, he doesn’t know any liberals — or anything about Sharia law.)

Asked at the time if there’s any danger that a judge might actually issue uch a ruling, the right-wing state lawmaker conceded on MSNBC that it’s never happened, but added, “[I]t’s not just a danger. It’s a reality…. This is a war for the survival of America.”

He wasn’t kidding. What’s more, his little gambit passed.

I’m reminded of something digby said when this first came up: “Somebody’s got to stop all those liberal judges from imposing ultra-conservative Sharia Law and stoning gays and women who stray from God’s path. Oh wait…what are we talking about again?”

Washington Monthly - Donate Today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.