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 loyalty.org. This site currently contains information relevant
to Seth Schoen's
fight against the California State loyalty oath.
- If you'd like to help organize Californians for Academic Freedom, you
should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are fighting any State loyalty oath, I'd be glad to publish your
information here, or to combine efforts with you.
What you should know about the oath
- 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
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.
- 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..."
- 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.
- The loyalty oath asks employees to make promises and representations
about their beliefs ("faith",
reservation"), not just
about their overt actions. People who ask whether the oath could be limited
to overt actions are told it cannot.
- 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.
- 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.
- The University is losing prospective students, employees, and professors
because of the loyalty oath.
- 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
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.
Californians for Academic Freedom now has an electronic mailing list,
This list is named for Henry David Thoreau's statement in Civil
... 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
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.
- February 2, 1999: Returned
payment to Brenda Greenwood with objections to receiving payment in this
manner, thanking Vice Chancellor Padilla for his assistance and efforts.
- December 23, 1998: Assistant Director, Human Resources Brenda
Greenwood offers payment for
previously unpaid time spent in training.
- December 21, 1998: Vice Chancellor Padilla
responds to appeal, pledging
to notify students of the oath requirement and to compensate me for time
spent in training.
- December 4, 1998: The story appears in the East Bay Express
- November 20, 1998: Appealed decision of
Greer Collins (unfortunately referring to her as male throughout; my apologies
to Ms. Collins).
- November 13, 1998: The story is covered by The Bridge, the
school newspaper at Seth Schoen's high school
- November 2, 1998: The grievance is
decided in favor of the University
by Greer Collins, Human Resources Manager for Undergraduate Affairs.
- October 29, 1998: The story is covered in Ryan Tate's "Hush Hush"
story from Daily Californian; local
mirror). There are some slight errors in this very positive article,
including the order of Seth's name. A few numerical values are also
- October 25, 1998: Improved this web page slightly (logically and
aesthetically), including the creation of the Californians for
Academic Freedom logo (which includes an inscription
dating to 1950).
- October 22, 1998: The story is picked up by the Associated Press
(original story from SF Gate;
local mirror) and runs in several
newspapers in California (including the San Jose Mercury News
and the West County Times). The Daily Californian
- October 20, 1998: Seth Schoen's press
release about his case is released.
- September 10, 1998: Grievance against Housing and Dining Services
is filed by Joey Cheung. A report with a recommendation on the disposition
of my grievance is due in 75 days (on or before November 25, 1998).
- September 6, 1998: Sent text of grievance letter and timetable of events
to Joey Cheung, representative assigned by ASUC Office of the Student
- September 5, 1998: Added definitions of words
appearing in the text of the oath.
- September 4, 1998: Wrote to the Association of
Graduate Student Employees to request their help in opposing the
loyalty oath and adopting a contract negotiation platform against it.
- September 3, 1998: Pages at
loyalty.org were created.
- September 1, 1998: loyalty.org was registered to
Californians for Academic Freedom.
- Article in UC Santa Cruz student newspaper about loyalty oath
- Letters to teachers' unions and to all UC campuses concerning
loyalty oath policies
- Press release about policy change
- California Public Records Act request for documentation about
implementation of oath at UC Berkeley
Californians for Academic Freedom / Seth Schoen