The United States has always used common law, the Constitution, and precedent to render its judgments in courts. We, like most other nations around the world, enjoy a court system where justice is delivered based on our decided constitutional principles. However, recently, international and religious laws have crept into our court systems, and when politicians in Oklahoma have tried to clarify and protect our current laws, they have only been called racist and intolerant.
In June of 2010, a man, who remains unnamed, raped his divorced wife. The prosecuting attorney told the court, “Defendant forced plaintiff to have sex with him while she cried. Plaintiff testified that defendant always told her “this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you. The woman, she should submit and do anything I ask her to do.” While Judge Joseph Charles found that an overwhelming amount of evidence showed that the woman had indeed been sexually harassed and assaulted, the judge would not grant the woman a restraining order, saying “The court believes that [defendant] was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.” Essentially, the judge ruled with respect to a certain aspect of Shar’ia law; it is legal for a man to harass a woman if it is consistent with his religious practices.
While a higher court reversed this startling decision and the woman was later granted a restraining order, cases like these reinforce the need for defined laws. Although freedom of religion to the utmost extent should be allowed, no law other than our own can be allowed in our court systems; each citizen of the United States should be held to the same standard, and no man should be able to harass any woman because he believes it is part of his religion.
This is where a new Oklahoma law comes in; it bans any kind of ruling in court (including some aspects of Shar’ia law) that would conflict with the rights granted to an American citizen under the constitution:
“Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part 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.”
This law was later dissolved by a permanent federal injunction that ruled it unconstitutional. However, it seems that either this law, or a similar law that would be deemed constitutional, is needed in order to protect the rights of American citizens. Regardless, this law should not specifically mention Shar’ia or any other specific system of laws- if it addresses a specific code in this manner, it could be seen as targeting a specific religion. In the past, the courts have ruled against bills that target a single religion; thus, whether a bill specifically mentions Shar’ia is certainly important. Instead, the law should target any non-U.S. legal code that could potentially conflict with an American citizen’s rights under the constitution.