Business lawyer answers questions about Sharia ban

Q&A with Richard Riggs

published in The Oklahoman | November 19, 2010

McAfee & Taft corporate attorney Richard Riggs was featured in The Oklahoman explaining how State Question 755 impacts more than just Sharia Law. While this provision in the recently passed constitutional amendment has received the most notoriety, it’s the other provisions that most concern Oklahoma businesses and state officials seeking to attract business in Oklahoma.

“In prohibiting consideration of ‘international law’ and the ‘legal precepts of other nations or cultures,’ the amendment seems to preclude Oklahoma courts from taking into account a broad range of legal principles that currently govern transactions with an international feature,” Riggs told The Oklahoman. “With globalization of markets now the rule, rather than the exception, that includes a lot of transactions.”

Riggs said that Oklahoma courts do primarily render their decisions based on state and federal law. However, when appropriate, courts routinely “consider” laws and legal principles of other nations as an aid in interpretation. If implemented, the constitutional amendment would prohibit Oklahoma courts from such consideration, including legal principles that, “under well-established practices, have traditionally been used by courts in adjudicating disputes.”

The result would be to set Oklahoma apart in requiring a judicial approach that increases uncertainty, Riggs said.

“Foreign businesses considering doing business with Oklahomans would be forced to consider the consequences of that uncertainty. In a highly competitive envirnoment, that uncertainty may tip the scales in favor of doing business in a state that has a more traditional view on how judicial decisions are to be made and that offers more preditable results.”