Anti-communist oaths persist despite court rulings

tags: Red Scare, AP, McCarthyism, Legislature



It has been just shy of 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Washington state law barring members of the Communist Party from voting or holding public-sector jobs is unconstitutional.

Evidently, that is not enough time to remove it from the books.

Washington is one of a handful of states with similar laws still in existence despite their having been declared unconstitutional decades ago.

With few exceptions - most notably Georgia, where an anti-communist oath was administered to incoming Dunwoody City Councilmembers as recently as last year - the laws are treated as part of a bygone era, not unlike state statutes prohibiting interracial marriage, the last of which was removed from Alabama's books in 2001 even though the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in 1967.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, first introduced a measure to repeal Washington state's anachronistic anti-subversives law last year, figuring, he says, that it would be an unceremonious end to a dead-letter statute originating from a dark period in our nation's history.

He was wrong. Though his bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, it did so on a party-line vote, with four Republicans opposed...



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