Silly Anti-Sharia Law Cost Oklahoma Taxpayers more than $300,000

Friday, May 23, 2014
Muneer Awad (photo: Ed Andrieski, AP)

Oklahomans are on the hook for more than $300,000 for adopting a state constitutional amendment banning the use of Islamic law in state courts.


Established in 2010 by lawmakers and voters, the “Save Our State Amendment” targeted Sharia law, which conservatives claimed was a threat to Oklahoma. The resolution was written by Republican state Rep. Rex Duncan, who characterized the proposed ban as a “preemptive strike” against the law.


But Muneer Awad, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, argued the law violated the First Amendment’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.


He also said the amendment would interfere with his will being probated because it contained references to Islam and Islamic law.


Muneer successfully sued the state to stop the law, winning favorable decisions before a federal judge and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.


He then demanded the state pay for his legal fees, and won yet another ruling, this time before U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange.


The bill: $303,333.


Michael Salem, who helped Muneer with his lawsuit, told The Oklahoman that the law was pointless, not to mention costly, given there were no indications that Sharia law was creeping into the legal system.


“It created a solution where there was no problem that existed,” he said. “This was just politicians optimistically looking for an issue. Look what happened. Not only did the state question get struck down, but they’ll have to pay attorney fees and interest over three years.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Oklahoma to Pay $300,000 in Legal Fees after ‘Preemptively’ Banning Sharia Law (by Scott Kaufman, Raw Story)

State of Oklahoma Owes $303,333 in Plaintiffs' Legal Fees over Sharia Law Case (by Rick Green, The Oklahoman)

7 Foundations Spent $42 Million to Spread Fear of Muslims in U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Did Oklahoma Voters Inadvertently Ban the Ten Commandments? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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