Last week, Rick blogged about the recent passage of an amendment to Oklahoma's state constitution which "would prevent Oklahoma courts from considering 'the legal precepts of . . . international law or Sharia Law.'" In brief, Rick dismissed the amendment as unconstitutional and impractical, and I agree.
However, one commentor wrote that "Sharia is unconstitutional" and gave examples of "beheading apostates and homosexuals and stoning adulterers to death," examples which would be of grave concern were they actually plausible. Obviously, as a human rights organization, EarthRights International is opposed to beheadings and stonings, and I thought I should clarify what is and isn't at stake here, as there are a great many misconceptions about what the Oklahoma provision actually does, what Sharia is, and how Sharia might be used, without controversy, by courts in the United States.
First, as Rick noted, the Oklahoma provision applies to all foreign and international law. This paints with a much broader brush than simply targeting Sharia law, and excluding international law (which is often binding on states) is clearly problematic.
Second is the question of what Sharia is. Incredibly, the Oklahoma provision does not define it; although the ballot question states that Sharia is "Islamic law," based on "the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed"--which is vague enough already--the actual constitutional amendment does not define it at all. While Sharia is generally accepted to be derived from the teachings of Mohammed, scholars do not agree on its content, and Sharia as applied by different Islamic states is not uniform.
More importantly, however, Sharia goes far beyond beheadings and stonings; Sharia is a complete system of laws, including family law, contract law, estate law, etc. In some countries, Sharia is the primary form of law applied; most countries with a significant Muslim population apply a . . .