Professor Stein Reconsiders California State Loyalty Oath

Monday, September 14, 2015

HISTORY NEWS NETWORK -- On Constitution Day, the national holiday that commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, Californians might want to launch a new free speech movement aimed at repealing or modifying the state’s loyalty oath.

I first learned about the oath in 2014, after San Francisco State University offered to hire me as the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of U.S. History, a position designated for a specialist in constitutional law. Several months before I was scheduled to begin my new job, SF State informed me that I would need to sign California’s loyalty oath, an obligation of all state employees, including public college and university teachers. When I first read the oath, I wondered about the reference to “mental reservation.” Aren’t professors trained to have questions, doubts and reservations about pretty much everything?