Who are they to decide?

Voters, not the judicial system, decide what's in their states' constitutions

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Oklahoma’s ban on sharia law shouldn’t be necessary.

But neither should it be blocked by judges.

Some 70 percent of voters in Oklahoma last year adopted an amendment to their state constitution barring courts from using foreign laws in their rulings.

“Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or sharia law,” the amendment says.

A judge blocked the law last year, and this week the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judge’s order blocking the amendment from taking effect. The full challenge to it will now play out in court.

You have to wonder why the amendment is even necessary. Aren’t judges already bound by state and federal laws? Aren’t they obligated to work within the framework of existing law? Wouldn’t many of the tenets of sharia law be illegal anyway?

Well, yes – but you know how that goes. Many judges make it all up as they go along these days.

Ironically, that’s been proven in this very case.

Consider the situation: Voters in Oklahoma have decided, in overwhelming numbers – though that shouldn’t matter – to change their constitution, which is their agreed-upon social contract and the highest law in the state. Yet, judges are saying that they – not the voters, the people of Oklahoma – can decide what’s in the state’s constitution.

Isn’t that just a little disconcerting? That we have to go on bended knee to ask judges permission to amend our constitutions?

That being the situation, what ultimately happens in this case will say a lot about whether we remain a free people.

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wtinney
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wtinney 01/13/12 - 01:52 am
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Although I agree with the

Although I agree with the premise of this editorial, I would like to remind the AC editorial staff that Oklahoma's referendum to amend the "state" state constitution is being challenged in "federal" court - not "state" court. The federal court system does not work under nor is it bound by state constitutions or laws. In this case, the federal court system is saying that the law violates equal protections clause as well as Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended) for islamic groups that support tenents of Sharia law.

A lot of legal advisors and experts are saying that this really does not matter. I believe it must matter or you would not have had the activist Islamic groups ask for the injunction in federal courts to block the law from going into effect.

Overall, the lesson here has already been learned from California's Prop. 8 case in which the State Supreme Court okayed the law to be placed on the ballot but after it passed, behold, a gay district judge suprisingly found it unconstitutional - with the argument that morals are not foundational aspects of law (a reasoning so dumbfounding that it likely will go down as the second most questionably reasoned decision of all time - right behind Roe v. Wade).

It is common that federal courts mess with state business - especially referendums. See the fight on illegal immigration, defense of marriage, and now, Sharia law. The feds do not support separate jurisdictions anymore.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/13/12 - 06:00 am
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The military has to provide

The military has to provide Muslim chaplains because of Congressional mandates. I wonder how they handle that with the Marines? I guess you just have to make sure a restroom is nearby.

carcraft
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carcraft 01/13/12 - 07:01 am
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OK- Either we accept Islam as

OK- Either we accept Islam as a religion or we don't. If we don’t accept Islam as a religion then Islamic law can be used as bases for a legal system in the US due to the liberal interpretation of the founding amendment, and The Obama administration can push a scholar ship program for Islamic women (but it still violates the sexual discrimination statues and regulations). It is called the NEXXT program. If Islam is a religion then I guess it is wrong for the Obama administration to promote the Islamic religion and violation of the separation of Church and state. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/hillary-clinton-offers-world-class-educa... Why not have more scholar ships for poor American students? I can’t find out where the funding for this is coming from..but I bet it is more liberals spending other peoples money..

Rhetor
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Rhetor 01/13/12 - 09:21 am
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First, there is no Sharia law

First, there is no Sharia law in the US. None. Nowhere. Don't be so silly. That would violate the 1st Amendment. What is going on in this case, which you could have verified with 2 minutes of simple research, is that two Muslim believers have a right to sign a voluntary contract calling for binding arbitration by a Muslim arbitrator, who may follow Sharia law to make a ruling. Jews often do the same thing: they will often sign a contract providing that disputes should be settled by a rabbi following Jewish law. Evangelical Christians also do this: they can sign contracts calling for disputes to be judged by a minister following Biblical principles. The courts have consistently held that such contracts, voluntarily and legally made, are binding on the parties. The court's ruling in this case upheld that ancient right, which is part of the free exercise of religion protected by the 1st Amendment, and nothing more. Who are they to decide? They are federal courts, that's who. The Oklahoma law interfered with Muslims' right to exercise their religion and the federal court rightly upheld their 1st Amendment rights. I assume that Riverman's post above objects to allowing Muslims to serve in the military and to practice their religion there? It is precisely to combat such attitudes that the founders of our great nation produced the Bill of Rights and that the nation later adopted the 14th Amendment. Good for them. The Court in this case provided legal protection for a religion that is often subject to bizarre preconceived opinions--read the above posts for evidence. Courts do not exist to protect the majority and the powerful. They exist to protect minorities and the powerless. The states do not have a "state's right" to mistreat the unpopular members of their population. If you don't like that, you can move to a country that doesn't protect people's freedom.

allhans
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allhans 01/13/12 - 09:32 am
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carcraft, this shows just how

carcraft, this shows just how little value the current administration places on it own citizens.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 10:34 am
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Rhetor: Your assessment of

Rhetor: Your assessment of the Oklahoma Sharia law case is principled, elegantly stated, and absolutely true. Why can't ACES and other supporters of such laws get straight one simple truth about the United States: NO STATE RIGHT IS ABSOLUTE. No state right is EVER exempt from the protections provided by the United States Constitution. When any state law or constitutional provision is adjudged in conflict with the Bill of Rights, it is always the federal right which prevails. What made a First Amendment religious freedom challenge to the Oklahoma provision a slam dunk was that it singled out by name only one "religion," Sharia Law. That is religious discrimination on its face! I will be surprised if the Supremes even agree to review this case on Oklahoma's inevitable appeals.

Techfan
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Techfan 01/13/12 - 10:38 am
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cnsnews??? That's a good

cnsnews??? That's a good one. Brent Bozell's propaganda service, not a legitimate news source.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 11:39 am
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wtinney": there never ever

wtinney": there never ever were "separate jurisdictions" in the sense that a state, in the exercise of one of the rights reserved to it under the U.S. Constitution and its 10th Amendment, was exempt from restraint by other sections of the Constitution. This is especially true of the protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. States are free to mold state constitutional provisions and state laws any way they please so long as those provisions and laws do not violate Bill of Rights protections.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 11:41 am
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Here is a little thought

Here is a little thought experiment for ACES and others who claim to be appalled by the feds' injunction against enforcement of Oklahoma's anti-Sharia law. What do you have to say about the recent decision of the Montana Supreme Court, which basically found that a law passed by the citizens of Montana in 1912, a law which put strict limits on political contributions by corporations in the state of Montana, takes precedence over the U. S. Supreme Court's Citizens United case, which found any such limits on corporate political spending a violation of the U.S. Constitution? In this instance, SCOTUS vacated a state law in a way which conservatives generally approve. In the Oklahoma instance, a federal court stopped the implementation of an Oklahoma law / constitutional change in a way ACES and many conservatives oppose. So, does the U.S. Constitution restrain states even in areas traditionally held to be within states' jurisdictions, or not???? Don't be shy, speak up!

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/12 - 12:00 pm
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Something tells me, EEL, that

Something tells me, EEL, that your "little thought experiment" somehow fails to include all the relevant facts thereby making it impossible for anyone to answer your question intelligently.

It's not unlike you saying 'Fred and Jim were charged with murder. Jim was found guilty and Fred was found innocent. What do you think? Don't be shy, speak up!'

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 12:22 pm
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Well, harley_52, why don't

Well, harley_52, why don't you exert yourself enough to read up on the Montana case? I'm sure you would not trust me to provide background anyway. Please feel free to report whether my summary is in any essential way inaccurate. To repeat, the Montana State Supreme Court ruled quite recently that as states have the right to legislate laws governing state elections, the Montana law which strictly limits Montana corporate political contributions in Montana elections takes precedence over the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. It's a classic states' rights ruling; what's so hard to understand? I have spoken up, twice now, on the merits of the situation. You have spoken up merely to say you doubt you have all the facts. OK, we'll wait for you to find them....

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/13/12 - 12:34 pm
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It has always been true that

It has always been true that a state can enact and enforce laws that contradict items in the Bill of Rights, but only so long as the U.S. Attorney General or U.S. Marshalls choose not to intervene with enforcement.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 01:12 pm
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Well, Little Lamb, you leave

Well, Little Lamb, you leave out a few things. It is true that the U.S. Attorney General may initiate a federal constitutional review of a state law, but that is not the way most challenges start. Any citizen may bring suit in federal court when he or she believes a federal constitutional issue may be involved. That is what happened in Oklahoma; a Muslim citizen challenged the newly approved anti-Sharia provision of the Oklahoma constitution in federal court and was granted an injunction. That is also what happened in the Citizens United case. It was not the Justice Department which got things started, but an interest group, Citizens United, which brought suit in federal court against the Federal Election Commission over an anti-Hilary Clinton ad. Even you, Little Lamb, could challenge a state law you think is in violation of one of the rights guaranteed you under the U.S. Constitution by getting heard in a federal court. Yes, Little Lamb, even you....

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 01:12 pm
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Are you still doing your

Are you still doing your homework, harley_52?

bjphysics
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bjphysics 01/13/12 - 01:56 pm
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effete elitist liberal: “Any

effete elitist liberal: “Any citizen may bring suit in federal court when he or she believes a federal constitutional issue may be involved.”

Close EEL but no cigar, the actor must have Standing:

“Standing requirements

There are three standing requirements:

1.Injury: The plaintiff must have suffered or imminently will suffer injury—an invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized. The injury must be actual or imminent, distinct and palpable, not abstract. This injury could be economic as well as non-economic.

2.Causation: There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, so that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result of the independent action of some third party who is not before the court.

3.Redressability: It must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that a favorable court decision will redress the injury.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_(law)#Standing_requirements

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/12 - 02:12 pm
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EEL asked "Are you still

EEL asked "Are you still doing your homework, harley_52?"

Homework?

You're assuming I have some desire to play your game.

Since I am of the opinion that you are a lawyer and I'm not, I'm not really interested in playing a game in which I already know you have the stronger hand.

I'm appalled that any state would even consider using sharia law for anything other than toilet paper. I'll leave it at that.

bjphysics
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bjphysics 01/13/12 - 02:24 pm
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harley_52: “Since I am of the

harley_52: “Since I am of the opinion that you are a lawyer and I'm not, I'm not really interested in playing a game in which I already know you have the stronger hand.”

If EEL was a lawyer, EEL would have known about Standing in U.S. courts; therefore, EEL is not a lawyer.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 02:29 pm
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bjp.... Thank you, but I am

bjp.... Thank you, but I am well aware the prerequisites you list. They in no way interfere with the point I was making in response to the posting by Little Lamb. My point, of course, was that there are many other ways to initiate a federal review of a state law or state constitutional provision than the two she mentioned. Any citizen may on his or her own invite a federal review of a state law by petitioning a federal court, provided that the substantive and procedural preconditions you so helpfully recite for us are met.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/12 - 02:35 pm
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bjphysics said "If EEL was a

bjphysics said "If EEL was a lawyer, EEL would have known about Standing in U.S. courts; therefore, EEL is not a lawyer."

Superb non sequitur. Anyway.....I didn't say he was necessarily a good lawyer, just a lawyer. I think he is. Just like I think you're actually a physics nerd so I'd probably choose not to argue some complicated scientific theory with you.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 02:37 pm
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harley_52: what you so

harley_52: what you so dismissively call my "game" is in fact a serious challenge to conservatives to examine whether they are consistent in their thinking about federal judicial review. It seems to me that conservatives will be consistent only if they reject both the federal court's opposition to the Oklahoma anti-Sharia provision AND the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, at least to the extent
it may be held to trump Montana's anti-corporate political donation law.
In other words, wouldn't it be a consistent defense of states rights to support both the Oklahoma anti-Sharia provision and Montana's anti-corporate funding law in the face of federal challenges? And, oh, bjphysics, feel free to join in!

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 02:39 pm
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harley_52: are you as sure

harley_52: are you as sure about my gender as you are about my profession?

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 02:41 pm
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harley_52: and if you say

harley_52: and if you say EEL may instead be a woman, but not necessarily a good one, I may have to blush....

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/13/12 - 02:50 pm
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For what it's worth, I bet

For what it's worth, I bet EEL is both a good women and a good lawyer. Run harley.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/12 - 03:36 pm
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EEL....I am "sure" of neither

EEL....I am "sure" of neither your gender nor your profession. I THINK you're a lawyer and I used to think you were a man, but now I think you're a woman.

I have no reason to doubt your "goodness" in either regard and will consider you good in both instances until somehow convinced otherwise.

I assure you that I enjoy discussions with you even though you always seem to approach issues from the wrong side. :)

effete elitist liberal
2790
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effete elitist liberal 01/13/12 - 04:07 pm
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harley_52 Do I detect a new

harley_52 Do I detect a new and commendable tentativeness in your comments? And thanks for at least conditionally thinking better of me rather than worse.... Of course it pleases me to hear you say you enjoy the wrangling. I do as well. All the "feel good stuff' aside for a moment, however, I really do wish one of you would address my arguments about conservative consistency on cases such as the Oklahoma anti-Sharia law and the Montana anti-corporate election financing law.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/12 - 04:46 pm
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EEL, I don't know much about

EEL, I don't know much about it. In fact, I'm not sure what either of the courts said and I'm not particularly interested in attempting to wade through all the legalese in the findings and opinions to get up to speed. Even then there may be nuances to the relevant law I don't know about.

I suppose one difference is that the Oklahoma case is a ruling by a Federal Appeals court and the Montana case is a State Supreme Court. I don't know how the SCOTUS might rule in either case. I'm not even sure the legal effect of a State Supreme Court finding the SCOTUS in error. I suppose the Oklahoma case could be reversed by the SCOTUS if/when they get it and I frankly don't know the next step in the Montana case. I suppose the Federal government has to either make some move to enforce the Federal law in spite of the Montana Supreme Court's ruling, but I'm not sure how they might do it.

BTW, if "tentativeness" means opting not to take a knife to a gun fight, I plead guilty. I'd like to consider it wisdom, myself, but you're free to call it whatever you choose.

Sargebaby
4690
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Sargebaby 01/13/12 - 08:35 pm
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"I'm appalled that any state

"I'm appalled that any state would even consider using sharia law for anything other than toilet paper. I'll leave it at that."

Well stated, Harley! Kinda makes a body wonder, how many people have actually read any of sharia law? That's the only place one can learn why sharia law in America, should only be used as toilet paper.

allhans
21982
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allhans 01/13/12 - 11:27 pm
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I don't know how a sane

I don't know how a sane person can defend a religion that practices slavery (Or so someone said). But to each his own.

OJP
4680
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OJP 01/14/12 - 12:17 am
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"This Constitution, and the

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." Art. IV, cl. 2.

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