1967 January 23

Members of Allegedly “Seditious” Groups Can Teach in New York

 

In Keyishian v. Board of Regents, decided on this day, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a New York State law that prohibited members of “seditious” groups from teaching in the state. The Court held that academic freedom “does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.” The law required an answer to the question: “Have you ever advised or taught or were you ever a member of any society or group of persons which taught or advocated the doctrine that the Government of the United States or of any political subdivisions thereof should be overthrown or overturned by force, violence or any unlawful means?”

Sedition is generally defined to mean actions or direct incitement to challenge the established order and/or to advocate the overthrow of the government. See, for example, the federal Smith Act, passed on June 29, 1940.

Listen to the oral arguments in the case: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1966/1966_105

Learn more about the freedom to teach at the AAUP: http://www.aaup.org/report/freedom-to-teach

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