Just the right bit of religion

Mon Oct. 10, 2005 4:33 PM EDT

Since the final draft of the new Iraqi constitution was released last Thursday to citizens in Baghdad, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has released a review of its human rights protections, especially those regarding religious freedom. While noting some improvements, USCIRF sees the inclusion of Islam as the state religion and its designation as the "a fundamental source of legislation" as a danger to civil liberties. Especially troubling to the Commission is that the interpretation and implementation of the laws will be determined by the Iraqi high court, which will contain Islamic jurists with no training in western-style civil law legal traditions. The majority Shiite Muslims in Iraq support the final draft of the constitution, while militant factions of the Sunni minority are calling for a boycott of the referendum and threatening participants with violence.

The concerns raised by the Iraqi constitutional draft and court nominations add an interesting element to the somewhat parallel civic conversation surrounding the Supreme Court nominee debacle in the US. As Miers' evangelical history is simultaneously attacked, right and left by some, and touted as a selling point by others, some Americans may be left wondering exactly when and how the principle of church-state separation gets implemented; then again, some have already made up their mind.