In response to House Speaker McCall barring access to certain legislative offices during the teacher walkout, the ACLU of Oklahoma issued the following statement:
The following statement is attributable to Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director, ACLU of Oklahoma:
The ACLU of Oklahoma has received several reports from teachers and education advocates at the Oklahoma Capitol of instances in which people have been denied access to public hallways outside legislative offices. In some cases, people have been unable to deliver letters or access the offices of their representatives. To be absolutely clear, this is unconstitutional and we have demanded that such orders be immediately rescinded and access restored.
The closings have occurred without any prior notice or apparent legal authority, and without any claim that they are needed for security. Even if they were, there are less restrictive means available to balance legislative needs with the rights of the public.
As public servants, it is every legislator’s duty to respect Oklahomans’ rights as sovereign owners of the building in which they are merely tenants. The public’s right to freely access their own Capitol building is protected under both the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. Denying the right to use public spaces at our Capitol for political assembly, speech, and to petition elected officials at their public offices is unacceptable.
While we hope that Speaker McCall will voluntarily choose to respect the rights of Oklahomans by ensuring all public spaces within the capitol are accessible, we are quite willing to have a federal court settle the dispute in the event that these violations continue.