Vote NO SQ 755 - ANTI-TRIBAL, ANTI-SOVEREIGNTY legislation
FYI, this is an anti-Tribal Sovereignty issue, State question 755. Vote NO.
David W. Narcomey
Citizen, Seminole Nation - Oklahoma
Business Owner. Estecate Imprints.
Analysis provided by the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission
Approval of SQ 755 Could Cause Oklahoma Tribes Collateral Damage
The “Save Our State Amendment” is one of eleven state questions that will appear on Oklahoma ballots this November as State Question 755. The referendum proposes an amendment to Article VII, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution to forbid state courts from considering or using international law, and specifically Sharia Law, in rendering decisions. While aimed at prohibiting the influence of Islamic law on Oklahoma court decisions, the text of the proposed amendment reveals that it could also damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes in the process. It completely ignores the possibility that an Oklahoma state court may be called upon to apply the law of any of the 39 Indian tribes located with the borders of Oklahoma to resolve a dispute.
The text of the amendment requires Oklahoma state courts to:
[U]phold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code, federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, established common law, the Oklahoma Statues and rules promulgated pursuant thereto, and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law, in making judicial decisions.
SQ 755, as written, prohibits an Oklahoma state court from applying any law but Oklahoma or U. S. law to settle a dispute. Further, the proposed constitutional amendment inhibits state courts from looking to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures for a decision. The language of this proposed amendment starkly reminds us that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and backs of “other nations and cultures,” namely, out tribes. It also ignores that Oklahoma tribes have become valuable economic partners with the State that it cannot afford to ignore or exclude.
If SQ 755 is approved, the lack of specific “tribal law” language could easily be interpreted by a state judge to leave no room to refer to a tribe’s law to determine the existence of a valid waiver of a tribe’s sovereign immunity, for example. Thus, SQ 755 has the potential to provide state court judges with yet another opportunity to further erode tribal sovereignty. A state court judge could rely on the amendment’s absence of recognition of any tribal law to avoid or disavow its application. Tribes and tribal members should be aware of this glaring omission for Oklahoma courts to look to and apply our tribal laws when appropriate, and vote on this question accordingly.