Oklahoma Supreme Court rules bill dealing with mask mandates in schools unconstitutional

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Kevin Stitt — and any future governors — have no say whether or not public schools in Oklahoma can have mask mandates for students and staff.

In a majority opinion, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 658, a bill that prevented schools from making decisions related to mask mandates unless Stitt declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma, was unconstitutional and an “impermissible delegation of authority.”

SB 658 would have allowed schools to require masks on their campuses, but only if the governor had declared a state of emergency.

According to court documents, the Supreme Court Justices wrote:

“Local control of schools is usurped by requiring the Governor to exercise executive authority to declare a state of emergency. The statutes remove the school board’s authority to act independently and exercise the authority granted to school boards and it grants that authority to the Governor.”

In the majority opinion, the State Supreme Court cited the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits one branch of government from exercising powers that belong to another branch. In this case, according to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits Stitt from exercising his powers over individual schools districts.

The case was filed by a Tulsa pediatrician whose two children attend Tulsa Public Schools.