2010 Oklahoma State Question 755

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State Question 755
Save Our State Amendment
Results
Choice
Votes %
Yes 695,650 70.08%
No 296,944 29.92%
Total votes 992,594 100.00%

Yes
  80–90%
  70–80%
  60–70%

State Question 755, also known as the Save Our State Amendment, was a legislatively-referred ballot measure held on November 2, 2010, alongside the 2010 Oklahoma elections. The ballot measure, which passed with over 70% of the vote, added bans on Sharia law and international law to the Oklahoma state constitution. However, the amended language never went into effect; a challenge in federal court successfully argued that it violated the First Amendment to the United States federal constitution.

Background

The amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 1056. State Representative Rex Duncan was the primary author of the amendment, with Mike Reynolds, Ann Coody, Sue Tibbs, David Derby, Sally Kern, Randy Terrill, John Enns, Mike Christian, George Faught, Lewis H. Moore, and Charles Key as coauthors in the House, with Anthony Sykes and Randy Brogdon as coauthors in the Oklahoma Senate.[1] According to Duncan, Oklahoma would be the first state to enact a Sharia law ban, which would be a "pre-emptive strike against Sharia law".[2]

The amendment was part of a nationwide movement against Sharia law, following a case in New Jersey when a woman was denied a restraining order against her husband after she alleged that he raped her; her husband argued that he was acting in accordance with his religious beliefs in forcing her to have sex.[3][4] This case, though later overturned, was cited by Patrick R. Wyrick, Oklahoma's solicitor general, as part of his attempt to defend the amendment in court.[3]

Contents

The original ballot title for the question, as suggested by the legislature, did not explain what Sharia law or international law were; Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmondson replaced it with a more explanatory ballot title.[2][1]

The proposal was listed on ballots as follows:[1]

This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law. International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.

The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.

Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

Support and opposition

The amendment was supported by most legislators, with only ten in the House and two in the Senate voting against the measure.[5] ACT for America, led by activist Brigitte Gabriel, strongly supported the measure, with Gabriel visiting the state to make multiple speeches in favor of the amendment.[6] The Tulsa Beacon, a conservative newspaper, endorsed the measure.[7]

Democratic state representative Cory Williams, one of the opponents of the measure, argued that it was unnecessary and singled out Muslims.[8] Chris White, the executive director of governmental affairs of the Osage Nation, expressed concerns that the measure could undermine treaty rights established in U.S.–Native American treaties.[8] Islamic groups also opposed the measure, with Saad Mohammed, the director of information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, arguing that the measure was unnecessary and only targeted Muslims without a good reason.[5]

Many newspapers in the state opposed the measure. The Oklahoman opposed the amendment, describing it as an unnecessary "feel-good measure".[9] The Enid News & Eagle similarly opposed it, noting that state and federal law is already the only law used in Oklahoma.[10] Tulsa World described the measure as bigoted,[11] and The Oklahoma Daily described it as Islamophobic.[12]

Polling

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size[a]
Margin
of error
Support
Question 755
Oppose
Question 755
Don't know/refused[b] Lead
SoonerPoll October 18–23, 2010 753 (LV) ± 3.57% 57% 24% 19% 33%
SoonerPoll October 3–7, 2010 352 (LV) ± 5.2% 45% 25% 30% 20%
SoonerPoll July 16–21, 2010 755 (LV) ± 3.57% 49% 24% 27% 25%
  1. ^ Key:
    A – all adults
    RV – registered voters
    LV – likely voters
    V – unclear
  2. ^ Some polling results do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Results

The amendment was approved by 70% of voters. Support was high across the state, with more than 60% of voters supporting it in every county.[13]

Question 755[13]
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 695,650 70.08
No 296,944 29.92
Total votes 992,594 100.00

Aftermath

Despite passing by a wide margin, the amendment never took effect. Muneer Awad, a local leader of the Council on American–Islamic Relations,[4] sued to stop the amendment from being enacted. He said that he wanted his estate to be dealt with under Islamic law, and that a ban on Islamic law would therefore violate his rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[14] The case, Awad v. Ziriax, was filed against the Oklahoma State Election Board, which was responsible for certifying the results of the amendment.[4] Awad was supported in his lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.[3]

A preliminary injunction against the ban was issued by Vicki Miles-LaGrange, a judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, on November 29, 2010.[15] The injunction was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where it was upheld on January 10, 2012.[4] The amendment was struck down in its entirety by Miles-LaGrange on August 15, 2013, with her finding that the law clearly violated the First Amendment. Oklahoma officials argued that only the Sharia prohibition in the law could be struck down, while leaving the rest intact, but Miles-LaGrange found that as most campaigning regarding the amendment focused on Sharia law, there was insufficient evidence that it would have been approved by voters without the Sharia prohibitions.[16]

Following initial legal challenges to the amendment, Sally Kern, a Republican member of the Oklahoma House, introduced HB 1552 in 2011. The bill intended to work around legal challenges by banning all religious and foreign law from being used in the state. The Oklahoma Council on American–Islamic Relations lobbied against this bill, arguing that it infringes on religious freedom and also threatens the validity of international business contracts.[17] The measure passed by a 76–3 margin in the House, but was ignored in the Senate.[18] She reintroduced the bill in 2012, where it again passed the House, but was rejected 6–9 in the Senate's rules committee.[19]

References

  1. ^ a b c "State Question Number 755 – Legislative Referendum Number 335" (PDF). Oklahoma Secretary of State.
  2. ^ a b Schlachtenhaufen, Mark (June 4, 2010). "Sharia law, courts likely on 2010 ballot". Norman Transcript. Retrieved April 13, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c Banda, P. Solomon (September 12, 2011). "Denver Appellate Court To Hear Islamic Law Case – CBS Colorado". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d Mears, Bill (January 10, 2012). "Federal court blocks Oklahoma ban on Sharia". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  5. ^ a b Brown, Trevor (September 23, 2010). "Islamic Sharia law ban raises questions, concerns". The Norman Transcript. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  6. ^ Weigel, David (April 4, 2011). "Sharia, USA". Slate. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  7. ^ "Tulsa Beacon voting endorsements for the Nov. 2 Election". Tulsa Beacon. October 28, 2010. Archived from the original on October 31, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  8. ^ a b Toensing, Gale Courey (September 13, 2018). "Oklahoma lawmakers aim to ban international and Sharia law from state courts". ICT News. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  9. ^ "Our SQ choices". The Oklahoman. October 18, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  10. ^ "Our take on the state questions". Enid News & Eagle. October 18, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  11. ^ "State questions". October 24, 2010. Archived from the original on October 31, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  12. ^ "OUR VIEW: State Questions 754, 755". October 27, 2010. Archived from the original on September 20, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  13. ^ a b "Election Night Results by County for 10/02/2010" (PDF). Oklahoma Secretary of State. pp. 138–139.
  14. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (January 10, 2012). "Court Strikes Down Oklahoma Shariah Ban". Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  15. ^ Mears, Bill. "Judge issues permanent injunction on Oklahoma Sharia law ban". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  16. ^ Reilly, Ryan J. (August 15, 2013). "Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Constitutional Amendment Struck Down By Federal Judge". HuffPost. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  17. ^ Schlachtenhaufen, Mark (March 18, 2011). "CAIR-OK launches anti-Sharia bill campaign". Norman Transcript. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  18. ^ "Lawmaker plans to revise bill prohibiting Sharia law". Muskogee Phoenix. Associated Press. January 11, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  19. ^ Quazilbash, Homa (April 5, 2012). "Update: Bill Banning Sharia Law In Oklahoma Killed In Committee". KTUL. Retrieved April 23, 2024.

External links