Wieman v. Updegraff - American Education
A 1952 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional an Oklahoma law requiring state employees to take a loyalty oath as a condition of employment. The case involved the dismissal in 1951 by Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College of seven teachers who had refused to swear that they had not been members of the Communist Party within the previous five years or members of any group deemed by the U.S. government to be a “Red Front” or subversive organization. Calling test oaths “notorious tools of tyranny,” the Court ruled that the Oklahoma law violated the individual’s constitutional right of free association and denied jobs to people “solely on the basis of organizational membership . . . regardless of their knowledge of the organizations to which they had belonged. But membership may be innocent,” said the Court. “Indiscriminate classification of innocent with knowing activity must fall as an assertion of arbitrary power. The oath offends due process. . . .