The AtlanticWire has a roundup of stories on Oklahoma's State Question 755, an until-recently obscure ballot initiative in the Sooner State that, if approved by voters, would prohibit the state's courts from using international law or Islamic Sharia law when making rulings.
I wrote about this curious bit of proposed legislation the other day. As unusual and geographically removed as it seems, State Question 755 is relevant beyond Oklahoma in the same way that Arizona's SB 1070 - and Oklahoma's similar HB 1804, which preceded it in 2007 - have been politically relevant beyond both states.
The inspiration for the measure, according to its backers, comes from a New Jersey case. From CNN:
The question might seem a befuddling one for a ballot in the heartland, but it stems from a New Jersey legal case in which a Muslim woman went to a family court asking for a restraining order against her spouse claiming he had raped her repeatedly. The judge ruled against her, saying that her husband was abiding by his Muslim beliefs regarding spousal duties. The decision was later overruled by an appellate court, but the case sparked a firestorm.
But there is no known instance of Sharia law cited in Oklahoma courts, leading its critics to suspect cultural-wedge political shenanigans. From the AtlanticWire post:
Oklahoma courts don't ever cite Islamic Sharia law in their decisions, so why even propose a measure against it? Onlookers suspect state Republicans are using Islamic law as a bogeyman issue to drive voter turnout.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote earlier this week: "If this initiative over-performs in November, look for a potential wave of 'preemptive strikes' against Sharia law in the years ahead."
If so, it also means that Muslims could join Latinos as a cultural wedge minority in state elections, with savvy campaigns exploiting the fear factor. The ballot title for State Question 755 refers to "the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed." Here is what Oklahoma voters will see on the ballot next week, per Ballotpedia.org: