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Today, however, few individuals and organizations of power and influence argue that unpopular advocacy has this same wholly unqualified immunity from governmental interference. ... Suppressive laws and practices are the fashion. [This] statute [in Oklahoma] is but one manifestation of a national network of laws aimed at coercing and controlling the minds of men. Test oaths are notorious tools of tyranny. When used to shackle the mind they are, or at least they should be, unspeakably odious to a free people.

Mr. Justice Black, Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 US 183 (1952)

A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of ... creed.

California Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Californians for Academic Freedom

Welcome to This site currently contains information relevant to Seth Schoen's fight against the California State loyalty oath.

What you should know about the oath

  1. Despite bitter fights over it during the 1940s and 1950s, which led to the public resignation of several professors, the State of California still requires University employees like professors and Teaching Assistants to swear a loyalty oath to the government. The phrasing of the oath has been toned down somewhat, and the responsibility for the requirement has moved from the Regents to the State, but it has never been eliminated.
  2. The oath requires prospective employees to "solemnly swear [to] support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic [and] bear true faith and allegiance to [them] without any mental reservation..."
  3. This oath is mandated for all employees of the University of California, including professors, Teaching Assistants, Dining Services employees, computer lab workers, etc. Of course, it also applies to teachers in California public schools, as well as the California State University and California Community Colleges. Foreign citizens are exempt, and Jehovah's Witnesses were briefly exempt (by Bessard v. California Community Colleges, decided under the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which shows that the oath is not actually considered necessary or effective by the State.
  4. The loyalty oath asks employees to make promises and representations about their beliefs ("faith", "allegiance", "mental reservation"), not just about their overt actions. People who ask whether the oath could be limited to overt actions are told it cannot.
  5. Employees who don't really believe in the oath, possibly including those who don't believe it should exist, but sign it anyway can be imprisoned for up to fourteen years for perjury. If you sign the oath but have "any mental reservation" about it, you are perjuring yourself.
  6. Student employees who criticize the form of government of the United States, or who belong to certain groups considered "subversive" (which includes several campus political groups) risk jail time for violating the oath. They, too, could be imprisoned for up to fourteen years for being subversive persons in the employment of the State government.
  7. The University is losing prospective students, employees, and professors because of the loyalty oath.
  8. All of this is happening in 1998, not 1958.

What you can do

Here is a list of things you can do to oppose the loyalty oath.

A ballot proposition

There is a possibility that Californians for Academic Freedom could organize a committee to qualify an initiative for the California ballot to eliminate the loyalty oath or to provide an alternative phrasing for education workers.

This step is not likely to occur until after any possible litigation. (For resolving a civil liberties problem, judicial review is always easier than Constitutional amendment.) This means that it is not likely to be undertaken before the year 2000. However, some documents about this process should be available here before that time.

E-mail list

Californians for Academic Freedom now has an electronic mailing list, This list is named for Henry David Thoreau's statement in Civil Disobedience:
... I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance.
To subscribe to this list, which is intended for discussion and announcements about the California loyalty oath, please write to

More information

You can see the oath as plain text, or view the standard UC payroll form (UPAY 595-1, "State Oath of Allegiance and University of California Patent Policy", revised May 1991) as a PDF (Acrobat) file.

Here's a list of links with information relevant to the California loyalty oath.

Definitions of important words in the loyalty oath, showing that it is a meaningful statement of definite political beliefs, as well as a promise to take definite actions.



Privacy policy

The privacy policy.
Californians for Academic Freedom / Seth Schoen