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September 25, 2010

SQ 755 ban raises questions, concerns

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

“There was nothing to ever instigate this,” he said. “I feel it was brought up generally as being against Muslims and it is targeting us by specifying (banning) Sharia law. So I think it is a (state question) that is against us and against our way of living.”

What the effect would be

Although the ethics and legality of including language in the state question that bans Sharia law and not other religious-based laws can be debated, a constitutional expert said the true impact the passage of the measure will have on the court system is minimal at best.

Andrew Spiropoulos, an Oklahoma City University law professor who directs the school’s Center for the Study of State Constitutional Law and Governments, said there haven’t been problems in the past with courts ruling on cases using Sharia law and he doesn’t envision how the state question would really change the way courts are required to act.

He said situations where using Sharia law could possibly arise are in arbitration proceedings, such as divorces cases, where the parties agree to use Sharia law in making the decision. Spiropoulos said even if the state question is passed, arbitration cases could still continue because state and federal laws still provide for them. By not specifically arguing something should be decided on Sharia law, there are a lot of other ways judges could theoretically still rule on these type of cases, he said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Sharia law, Jewish law or whatever else you might call something,” he said. “So the real issue is that there really is no practical effect to it.”

And extreme cases, such as recently in New Jersey when a family judge rejected a woman’s request for a restraining order on her sexually abusive Moroccan husband, Spiropoulos said courts can’t use Sharia law to rule on something that is illegal. The New Jersey case eventually was overturned on appeal.

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