Muneer Awad's opponents label him "a foreigner" trying to change Oklahoma's laws.
Awad, 27, a recent University of Georgia law school graduate born in Michigan, says he's standing up for the U.S. Constitution. "I'm trying to defend the First Amendment," says Awad, director of Oklahoma's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
At issue is an amendment to Oklahoma's constitution passed overwhelmingly on Election Day that bars judges from considering Islamic or international law in Oklahoma state courts. Awad sued, and last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while she determines whether it violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits establishment of a state religion.
Although Oklahoma's law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances.