Oklahoma’s New Bill To Block Sharia Law Will Now Ban All Religious Law, Hurt Businesses

Last year, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed State Question 755, a ballot measure barring “state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.”

Despite their zeal to root out a nonexistant threat, a federal judge blocked the law for violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment and blatantly targeting the Muslim community. Undeterred by its unconstitutionality, Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R) introduced House Bill 1552 this month — a reinvention of SQ 755 that addresses the legal issues holding up SQ 755 by banning the use of all foreign law in Oklahoma courts:

State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of House Bill 1552, which would ban the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts. It declares that any court action will be “void and unenforceable” if the decision is based “on any law, rule, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions.”

Kern said the bill is similar to SQ 755, and is written to address some of the legal issues used to challenge it.

To address one of them, HB 1552 declares “The Legislature fully recognizes the right to contract freely under the laws of this state, and also recognizes that this right may be reasonably and rationally circumscribed pursuant to the state’s interest to protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the United States or Oklahoma Constitutions.”

Kern said the change will prevent activist judges from undermining the rights of American citizens. She noted that similar proposals have been filed in at least 20 other states.

Kern’s bill still violates the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment — the violation that compelled a federal judge to block SQ 755 in the first place. CAIR-OK Director Muneer Awad notes that “in an attempt to target Islam without using the wording” of SQ 755, HB 1552 “will actually target all religions” by denying “people the use of Jewish Law, Catholic Law, or any other religious law” in private contracts “while also jeopardizing international business contracts that include forms of arbitration, choice of law clauses, or foreign law clauses” — just like SQ 755. Indeed, SQ 755 is so poorly written that would ban the long-standing rights and sovereignty of Native Americans.

HB 1552 is “a scare tactic and it’s a form of racism from Mrs. Sally Kern to do such a thing,” said Islamic Council of Oklahoma’s Saad Mohammed. But Kern, a rabidly right-wing lawmaker who has made a name for herself through fearmongering, remains casually indifferent to the unconstitutional extent of her efforts. “How can you challenge a bill that’s just trying to protect constitutional rights and liberties?” she said.