Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Constitutional Amendment Struck Down By Federal Judge

Epigraph: O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.  (Al Quran 5:9)

Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma

Source: Huffington Post

ryan.reilly@huffingtonpost.com

WASHINGTON — A proposed amendment to Oklahoma’s state constitution that would have prevented state courts from considering Sharia and international law was struck down by a federal judge on Thursday.

Chief District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the Western District of Oklahoma, who issued a temporary restraining order preventing the law from taking effect after it passed in 2010, ruled Thursday that the amendment’s references to Sharia, or Islamic law, violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. While Oklahoma officials argued the amendment could be enacted if the reference to Sharia was removed, Miles-LaGrange ruled that wasn’t possible.

“Having reviewed the numerous statements by the legislators who authored the amendment, it is abundantly clear that the primary purpose of the amendment was to specifically target and outlaw Sharia law and to act as a preemptive strike against Sharia law to protect Oklahoma from a perceived ‘threat’ of Sharia law being utilized in Oklahoma courts,” she ruled.

Miles-LaGrange also found that Oklahoma voters wouldn’t have passed the constitutional amendment without the Sharia language, ruling that the “public debate, public discussions, articles, radio ads and robocalls regarding SQ 755 all primarily, and overwhelmingly, focused on the Sharia law provisions of the amendment” and that given that context, any reasonable voter would have thought the amendment was a referendum on Sharia.

It was an “undisputed fact” that “the concern that it seeks to address has yet to occur,” said Miles-LaGrange.

“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, the Court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” she ruled.

The lawsuit against the constitutional amendment was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on behalf of the executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter, Muneer Awad.

“Throughout the case, the state couldn’t present even a shred of evidence to justify this discriminatory, unnecessary measure,” Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement.

“This law unfairly singled out one faith and one faith only,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “This amendment was nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. We’re thrilled that it has been struck down.”

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Vicki Miles-LaGrange

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Vicki Miles-LaGrange
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Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma
Born 1953[1]
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.[1]

Vicki Miles-LaGrange (born 1953) is the Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma.[2] She was the first African-American woman to be sworn in as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. She was also the first African-American female elected to the Oklahoma Senate.

Early life and education

A native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Miles-LaGrange, received a certificate from the University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, West Africa in 1973, and graduated cum laude from Vassar College in 1974. She then received her J.D. from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC in 1977. There, she was an editor of The Howard Law Journal.

Career in government

Vicki Miles-LaGrange served as a law clerk to Woodrow Seals of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas from 1977 to 1979. She was a Graduate fellow in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. from 1979 to 1980, and a special assistant to the African Development Group, Washington, D.C. from 1980 to 1981. She was at the same time a Lecturer in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1981. She was a Trial attorney of Office of Enforcement Operations, U.S. Department of Justice from 1982 to 1983. She returned to Oklahoma to serve as an assistant district attorney for Oklahoma County from 1983 to 1986, where she prosecuted sex crimes. She then entered the private practice of law in Oklahoma City from 1986 to 1993, and was during that period an Oklahoma state Senator from 1987 to 1993, making her the first African-American female elected to the Oklahoma State Senate along with Maxine Horner.[3] She was a U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma from 1993 to 1994.

Federal judicial service

Miles-LaGrange was nominated by President Bill Clinton on September 22, 1994, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma vacated by Lee Roy West. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 7, 1994, and received her commission on November 28, 1994. She began her service as chief judge in 2008. Judge Miles-LaGrange’s preliminary ruling [4] enjoining amendment of the Oklahoma Constitution to prohibit the state’s courts from either “considering or using” international law or Islamic Sharia law has attracted considerable attention and has prompted one Oklahoma state legislator to urge Congress to impeach her.[5]

Personal affiliations

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and currently serves as regional director for the Midwestern Region. She is also a member of The Links, Incorporated.[1] In 2003, Miles-LaGrange was inducted in the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

References

  1. ^ a b c “Find Law Profile of Vicki Miles-LaGrange”. Find Law. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
  2. ^ Official Website. Retrieved on January 19, 2009.
  3. ^ Vicki Miles-LaGrange — Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project
  4. ^ preliminary rulingZiriax et al., No. CIV-10-1186 (Nov. 29, 2010, W.D. Okla.), available at http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.newsok.com/documents/n29opinion.pdf
  5. ^ Gavel to Gavel, Vol. 5, Issue 5, http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/gaveltogavel/G%20to%20G%205-5.pdf

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Persondata
Name Miles-Lagrange, Vicki
Alternative names
Short description United States federal judge
Date of birth 1953
Place of birth Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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Categories: Americas, Sharia, Sharia Law

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