Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: Awad v. Ziriax (10th Cir. 2012): Anti-Sharīʿa Amendment to State Constitution

Petitioner Muneer Awad sued defendant members of the Oklahoma Election Board seeking to prevent certification of election results of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have prevented Oklahoma state courts from considering or using “Sharia Law.” The Petitioner claimed this state constitutional amendment would have violated his federal constitutional First Amendment rights and sought a preliminary injunction. The Appellate Court determined that the Petitioner asserted the kind of direct injury-in-fact necessary to create First Amendment Establishment Clause standing. Specifically, the Appellate Court determined that because the amendment would have been certified a week after it was passed, the injury was imminent and not conjectural or hypothetical. The Appellate Court also found that the proposed amendment violated the Establishment Clause because it discriminated among religions, and was therefore subject to strict scrutiny. The Appellate Court ruled that the proposed amendment could not pass the strict scrutiny standard because the Oklahoma Election Board could not prove that the amendment was enacted to provide a compelling state interest, and therefore could not prove that the amendment was not “closely fitted” to that interest.

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