1967 February 13

No Loyalty Oath for Medicare

 

The Supreme Court on this day agreed that a anti-Communist loyalty oath in the Medicare program was unenforceable. The Justice Department had indicated that it would not enforce the law, following a Circuit Court of Appeals decision in California in November 1966. The Court ruled on an ACLU appeal without a hearing, leaving the lower court decision standing. The loyalty oath for Medicare was one of the last (and possibly the very last) manifestation of the Cold War mania for anti-Communist loyalty oaths.

The insidious aspect of all the loyalty oaths of the Cold War era was that they had nothing to do with any specific criminal or unprofessional conduct on the part of individuals required to sign them.

Loyalty oaths were a special mania during the anti-Communist frenzy of the Cold War. Unlike traditional oaths of office, which involve an oath to uphold the Constitution and the law, Cold War loyalty oaths required people to swear that they were not members of the Communist Party and/or other radical parties or movements. Thus, they were oaths regarding membership and beliefs without reference to any actual or planned illegal action.

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