November 20, 2010
The Oklahoma Sharia Ban
A Federal District Court judge recently issued an order blocking the implementation of an amendment to the Oklahoma State Constitution. The amendment, approved by seventy percent of Oklahoma voters, would bar state court judges from considering either international or Islamic Sharia law when rendering legal decisions. This has naturally caused a firestorm of debate in the news media, all of which misses the central question, which is whether or not a federal court has the authority to arbitrarily interfere with the governance of a member state of our federal republic.
The ruling in Oklahoma comes, not surprisingly, from federal judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange, a Democrat and former Oklahoma state senator, appointed to the bench by President Clinton. Someone forgot to tell her that the federal courts have no authority whatsoever to enjoin a state government from amending its own constitution.
The problem in Oklahoma, as in Arizona, where the federal courts recently blocked implementation of state law dealing with illegal aliens, is that the states continue to play the feds' game; that is, they make their arguments from the false premise that the federal government has the authority to interfere in their internal affairs. It does not.
The Oklahoma amendment imperils no one's rights under the constitution of either Oklahoma or the United States. It says simply that Oklahoma judges will adhere to the laws of the state and of the United States and will not consider international or Sharia law when exercising their judicial authority. If, after Oklahoma enacts the amendment, a citizen feels that his rights as a United States citizen were somehow violated because the judge failed to consider the tenets of law in Libya, or misogynistic and backward Sharia law, that person could challenge the law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment reiterates that all Americans are citizens of both their state and of the United States and prohibits the states from taking any action that would deny U.S. citizens their rights.
The challenge to the law was filed by Muneer Awad, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He, of course, has no legal standing whatsoever to do so, since he has not had any of his rights violated by the passage of the amendment. His preposterous argument to Judge Miles-LaGrange was that he would somehow suffer "irreparable harm" if the amendment were to become law because it has the "effect of condemning Plaintiff's faith and enshrining that condemnation in Oklahoma's constitution."
Oklahoma's response to this absurd and illegal ruling by an activist federal judge should be to simply ignore it. The injunction issued by Judge Miles-LeGrange orders the four members of the state board of elections not to certify the results of the vote. She has no authority whatsoever to order state officials to not carry out their lawful duties, and the State of Oklahoma should ignore her ruling accordingly. This is the same course of action which the State of Arizona should have taken when the federal courts issued an invalid decree concerning their immigration law.
The states were intended -- along with our right to keep and bear arms -- as the last refuge and protector of the liberties of the people from a tyrannical central government. Now is the time to have that fight. What will Judge Miles-LaGrange do if the board defies her order and certifies the results of the vote? Hold them in contempt? Then what? Send the U.S. Marshals to arrest them? If she has the arrogance to do so, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry should send the state police to arrest any federal agents who attempt an unlawful arrest of one his state's citizens.
The U.S. Supreme Court has abused the Fourteenth Amendment to expand the power of the federal government into all sorts of areas that neither the original Constitution nor the authors of the amendment ever intended. Regardless, the Fourteenth Amendment certainly does not permit federal judges to directly interfere with the strictly internal affairs of any of the sovereign states that make up our federal republic.
The time has long since passed for the states to begin protecting their citizens from a corrupt and tyrannical federal government. They must refuse to obey federal mandates like Medicaid, what blood alcohol levels to set as their threshold for DUI, what the speed limits will be on their state highways, what to teach in their schools, and what laws they may live under within their own borders. The governments of our states must assert their sovereignty and ignore unlawful commands handed down from politically connected lawyers like Judge Vicki who believe they have the authority to meddle in the affairs of states. To even send a representative into a federal court to argue the case concedes the false premise that the federal government has the right to dictate to Oklahoma whether or not it can amend its own constitution.
The question is not whether the Oklahoma amendment ultimately passes muster with the terms of the U.S. Constitution -- that question could be addressed through the state and federal courts at a later time. The question is whether or not a federal judge can simply order states not to implement laws they think they might not agree with, even before a hearing of the facts. The citizens of every state have the right to govern themselves, and it is up to their state officials to start defending those rights against an increasingly oppressive federal regime in Washington, D.C.
Todd Keister is a former U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist and a veteran state police commander.