House of Representatives

Steagall Issues Statement Regarding Comments Made by U.S. District Court Judge

1/4/2022 2:42:00 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, Chair of the Oklahoma House States Rights Committee, today issued a statement requesting a public apology from Judge Stephen P. Friot after comments he made regarding Oklahoma Adjutant General Brigadier General Thomas Mancino in a recent court order. The order, issued on Dec. 28, 2021, was in response to the State of Oklahoma's lawsuit against the Biden Administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for National Guard members. Steagall said the following:

"On Dec. 28, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Judge Stephen P. Friot denied the motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin the Department of Defense's directives mandating the vaccination of members of the Oklahoma National Guard.

His denial is a decision that I altogether disagree with, and his opinion of the matter seems to be biased in favor of complete federal control of National Guard personnel, regardless of a Guard member's statutory status. This opinion is wholly out of line with the plain meaning in the relevant provisions of the Constitution pertaining to the separation of powers in Article I, Section 8, Clause 16, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, as well as the Tenth Amendment.

While I may indulge in the deliberation of the violated constitutional principles by the Biden administration (as outlined in the motion for enjoinment by Governor Stitt and Attorney General O'Connor), the derogatory comments made by Judge Friot directed toward Brigadier General Thomas Mancino are misguided, uninformed, and unacceptable; and the judge owes General Mancino a public apology for making such unprofessional and inflammatory allegations.

Brigadier General Mancino, the Adjutant General for the State of Oklahoma, is an outstanding officer with an impeccable service record of over 32 years in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.  His experience, knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of the laws governing the National Guard position him very well to be the top advisor to our governor on matters related to the applicability of federal mandates placed on Oklahoma National Guard members.

Oklahoma is fortunate to have an exemplary commanding military officer such as General Mancino, and I consider it an honor to work alongside him and the governor to protect our Guard members and the military assets of the State of Oklahoma.”