"This is the type of direct democracy people say they want. Sometimes you wonder," MSNBC's Chuck Todd editorialized after a segment about conservative ballot initiatives that passed into law on Tuesday.
Towards the bottom of the 9 a.m. EDT hour of "The Daily Rundown," reporter Mara Schiavocampo looked at a handful of state ballot initiatives that voters had considered at the polls on Tuesday. [Video after page break]
Aside from Proposition 19 -- the marijuana legalization measure which was rejected by California voters -- Schiavocampo noted two conservative ballot questions that passed in Oklahoma: a measure declaring English the official language of the Sooner State and a measure forbidding consideration of Islamic sharia law or international law in rulings made by Oklahoma state judges.
Schiavocampo insisted that "critics" -- whom she failed to name -- dismissed the ballot questions as "cultural wedge issues that were designed to bring conservatives to the polls."
Regarding the sharia law question, Schiavocampo said "it should be noted that nobody was attempting to use sharia law in Oklahoma in making legal decisions, but supporters of the law said that this was a preemptive strike against anything like that."
While perhaps no one is on record having attempted to use sharia law principles in an Oklahoma court proceeding, there has been at least one judge in another state who have made a horrendous decision based on undue deference to a Muslim defendant's reactionary reading of Islamic law.
The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog noted that case from New Jersey in a September 2 post:
Does Sharia law allow a husband to rape his wife, even in America? A New Jersey trial judge thought so. In a recently overturned case, a “trial judge found as a fact that defendant committed conduct that constituted a sexual assault” but did not hold the defendant liable because the defendant believed he was exercising his rights over the victim. Fortunately, a New Jersey appellate court reversed the trial judge. But make no mistake about it: this is no isolated incident. We will see more cases here in the United States where others attempt to impose Sharia law, under the guise of First Amendment protections, as a defense against crimes and other civil violations.
In S.D. v. M.J.R., the plaintiff, a Moroccan Muslim woman, lived with her Moroccan Muslim husband in New Jersey. She was repeatedly beaten and raped by her husband over the course of several weeks. While the plaintiff was being treated for her injuries at a hospital, a police detective interviewed her and took photographs of her injuries. Those photographs depicted injuries to plaintiff’s breasts, thighs and arm, bruised lips, eyes and right check. Further investigation established there were blood stains on the pillow and sheets of plaintiff’s bed.
The wife sought a permanent restraining order, and a New Jersey trial judge held a hearing in order to decide whether to issue the order. Evidence at trial established, among other things, that the husband told his wife, “You must do whatever I tell you to do. I want to hurt your flesh” and “this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you.” The police detective testified about her findings, and some of the photographs were entered into evidence.
The defendant’s Imam testified that a wife must comply with her husband’s sexual demands and he refused to answer whether, under Islamic law, a husband must stop his sexual advances on his wife if she says “no.”
The trial judge found that most of the criminal acts were indeed proved, but nonetheless denied the permanent retraining order. This judge held that the defendant could not be held responsible for the violent sexual assaults of his wife because he did not have the specific intent to sexually assault his wife, and because his actions were “consistent with his [religious] practices.” In other words, the judge refused to issue the permanent restraining order because under Sharia law, this Muslim husband had a “right” to rape his wife.
Besides the fact that the ruling is wrong as a legal matter, and offensive beyond words, it goes to the heart of the controversy about the insidious spread of Sharia law—the goal of radical Islamic extremists.
A "preemptive strike" against that nightmare seems a worthy matter to put before a state's voters.