OKLAHOMA CITY — A bunch of medical doctors and oldsters Thursday sued the Legislature and the governor over a brand new legislation that stops native college districts from issuing masks mandates aimed toward slowing the unfold of COVID-19.
Advocates say Senate Invoice 658 protects parental alternative by banning public colleges, schools, universities and technical packages from mandating masks for unvaccinated college students — until Gov. Kevin Stitt declares a state of emergency.
The Oklahoma State Medical Affiliation together with 4 plaintiffs, who’ve youngsters in Tulsa, Norman and Damaged Arrow, are asking for a direct injunction to pause Senate Invoice 658 whereas the Oklahoma County District Courtroom considers the constitutionality of the legislation.
The lawsuit alleges the brand new legislation violates the equal safety clause as a result of it solely applies to public college districts and postsecondary instructional establishments, “which arbitrarily treats college students and workers members of these recognized entities in a different way from college students and workers members of personal instructional establishments with no rational bias for the disparate therapy.”
Additionally they allege the legislation violates Oklahomans’ due course of rights and Oklahoma youngsters’s constitutionally assured proper to a free training in a secure surroundings, which incorporates protections towards the federal government endangering or jeopardizing their well being.
The group additionally alleges the legislation violates the state structure, which prohibits the enactment of particular legal guidelines regulating the affairs of cities or college districts, and claims it violates the state’s single-subject rule, which requires that each piece of laws embrace just one topic. Senate Invoice 658 addresses a number of separate and distinct problems with public well being together with COVID-19 immunization prohibitions, the lawsuit claims.
Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Affiliation, mentioned the group was glad to signal on to the lawsuit to vacate the legislation in an effort to maintain college students, academics and workers secure. Clarke, a Stillwater doctor, mentioned the science stands firmly behind vaccinations and masking as essential instruments in stopping the unfold of COVID-19.
“As we’re experiencing report numbers of youngsters contaminated by the delta variant and hospitals are stretched to capability, we should do all the pieces we will to maintain Oklahoma’s youngsters secure,” she mentioned. “This isn’t a political stance; it’s about public well being and customary sense. If colleges can ship college students house for a lice an infection, they need to have the latitude and talent to challenge a masks mandate.”
The Oklahoma lawyer normal’s workplace mentioned it had no touch upon the lawsuit.
Stitt’s workplace didn’t instantly remark.
Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, the Home writer of Senate Invoice 658, mentioned Wednesday forward of the submitting that he’s carried out some analysis after the same masking coverage in Arkansas was briefly halted by a court docket there.
“I’m not saying that it couldn’t be overturned, however simply from the conversations that I’ve had, it might be a tall order to get overturned right here in Oklahoma simply primarily based on how our structure differs from Arkansas and in addition how our court docket system is ready up,” West mentioned.
Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, the writer of Senate Invoice 658, mentioned Wednesday that he believes the laws stays essential.
“It takes the politics out of it and lets the dad and mom make their very own choice for the most effective well being care of their little one,” he mentioned.
He additionally mentioned he wished he by no means needed to file a invoice like that.
“I shouldn’t should,” he mentioned. “I feel 90% or 99% of Oklahomans consider dad and mom ought to make the selections for the well being care of their youngsters. So it shouldn’t be politicized.”
Forward of the lawsuit, Standridge mentioned he didn’t need to converse as to if the laws would efficiently face up to a court docket problem.
“It’s as much as the courts to make that call,” he mentioned.