Letter to Lanier College Warns of Unconstitutional Loyalty Pledge
The ACLU of Georgia warned Lanier Technical College that its employment loyalty pledge violates the Freedom of Association clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The college’s requirement for prospective or current employees to swear that they are not members of the Communist Party — or any group or organization considered unpopular — is unconstitutional.
The government, including state colleges, may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits, the ACLU of Georgia letter stated.
“Over 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for government employers to require employees to swear that they are not a member of the Communist Party or any other group, absent a showing of specific intent to further unlawful activity,” the ACLU of Georgia letter continued.
“Lanier Technical College’s requirement violates Georgians’ First Amendment Freedom of Association,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia, “and is reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths in the 1950s that required Americans to disavow membership in the Communist Party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activities. Rooting out employees who are or are thought to be members of the Communist Party was unconstitutional during the Cold War, and it remains unconstitutional today.”