On November 4, 2010, a devout and practicing Muslim filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against the Oklahoma State Election Board under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court to issue a preliminary ...
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On November 4, 2010, a devout and practicing Muslim filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against the Oklahoma State Election Board under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the Board certifying the election results of SQ 755's amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution. SQ 755 is a state initiative passed by the citizens of Oklahoma which, in relevant part, forbids judges from "considering or using Sharia Law" when deciding cases. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that the amendment violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment.
On November 29, 2010, Chief District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange granted plaintiff a preliminary injunction against certifying SQ 755. 754 F.Supp.2d 1298 (2010)
. The court found that plaintiff showed a substantial likelihood of success in demonstrating that SQ 755 had the primary effect of inhibiting religion and that the amendment fostered an excessive government entanglement with religion. The court also noted that the loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, constitutes irreparable injury in the absence of injunctive relief. The court concluded that the loss of plaintiff's First Amendment freedoms outweighed any injury that would occur from delaying the will of the voters being carried out by certifying the election results. The preliminary injunction was ordered until a decision could be made on the merits.
On December 1, 2010, the defendant appealed the district court's decision granting the preliminary injunction. On January 10, 2012, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. 670 F.3d 1111 (2010)
. On July 29, 2012, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint added new plaintiffs to the case, retained those challenges made to SQ 755 articulated in the original complaint, and asked the court to permanently enjoin Defendants from certifying the election results of SQ 755. On February 8, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment.
On August 15, 2013, Chief District Court Judge Miles-LaGrange granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoined defendants from certifying the election results for SQ 755.966 F.Supp.2d 1198 (2013)
. The court found that SQ 755's explicit and deliberate distinctions among religions warranted strict scrutiny. The court found that Oklahoma's articulated interest "in determining what law is applied in Oklahoma courts" was not compelling. Because the case failed the first step of the scrutiny analysis, there was no need to analyze tailoring. The court then found that the unconstitutional aspect of SQ 755 could not be severed, and declared the law unconstitutional.
On April 25, 2014, Chief District Court Judge Miles-LaGrange awarded plaintiff attorney fees and non-taxable expenses in the amount of $303,333.49. 2014 WL 1660650
. Richard Jolly - 10/14/2014