Catholic University Law Review


Mark C. Rahdert


In a statewide referendum, voters approved a change to the Oklahoma state constitution, adopting restrictions on state judges’ ability to use of foreign law. Dubbed the “Save Our State” (“SOS”) Amendment, the measure forbade Oklahoma state judges from considering or using international or foreign law, except where required to do so by federal statutes or treaties. The SOS Amendment particularly prohibited the use of Sharia law. Similar measures (usually without specific references to Sharia law) have been proposed or adopted elsewhere.

These Amendments, as well as other developments in American politics, reflect a vigorous new strain of a deep-seated tendency in the political, legal, and cultural thought of the United States: a commitment to U.S. national “exceptionalism.” This article examines the idea of U.S. legal exceptionalism in the context of the recent wave of state Anti-Foreign-or-International-Law (“AFIL”) laws. It focuses on the role of exceptionalism and the impact AFIL statutes could have on U.S. courts.