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Elfbrandt v. Russell

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Sullivan

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Citation. 384 U.S. 11,86 S. Ct. 1238,16 L. Ed. 2d 321,1966 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. An Arizona Act requiring all public employees to take an oath to support the state and federal Constitutions was held by the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) to be unconstitutional.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A law which restricts the type of membership that does not have “specific intent” to further the illegal aims of the organization infringes unnecessarily on protected freedoms. Such a law rests on the doctrine of “guilty by association” and such a law is unconstitutional.


Facts. An Arizona law required all public employees to take an oath to support the state and federal Constitutions. Employees who took the oath were subject to prosecution for perjury and discharge who “knowingly and willfully becomes or remains a member of the Communist Party.” The Petitioner, Elfbrandt (Petitioner), a teacher and a Quaker, decided that she could not, in good faith take the oath because she did not know what it meant and was not given a chance learn the extent of its scope and meaning.

Issue. Whether the Arizona Act requiring all public employees take an oath to support the state and federal Constitutions is constitutional?

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