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Keyishian v. Board of Regents

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 385 U.S. 589,87 S. Ct. 675,17 L. Ed. 2d 629,1967 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. A New York plan required faculty members of the State University, as a condition to continued employment, to sign a certificate stating they were not a member of the Communist Party. Also, if the faculty member had been a member of the Communist Party, he must communicate that fact to the President of the university. This plan was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The danger of the chilling effect upon the exercise of vital First Amendment constitutional rights must be guarded against by sensitive tools, which clearly inform teachers what is being proscribed.


Facts. As faculty members of the State University, the Appellants’, Keyishian and others (Appellants), continued employment was conditioned upon the signing of a certificate stating they were not members of the Communist Party. Also, if the faculty member had been a member of the Communist Party, they must communicate that fact to the President of the university. The law required removal for seditious and treasonable utterances and acts. Appellants refused to sign any certificate and failure to do so resulted in dismissal. A lower federal court rejected the Appellants’ constitutional challenges.

Issue. Whether the requirement to sign a certificate stating that he was not a member of the Communist Party and if he had been a member, he must communicate that to the President of the university is too broad and thus unconstitutional?
Whether the requirement’s provisions making membership to the Communist Party reason for dismissal are constitutional.

Content Type: Brief


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