Washington Law Review


In Baggett v. Bullitt, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that professors at the University of Washington could not be required to execute two legislatively prescribed "loyalty" oaths. This high-court decision ended a nine-year battle carried on by the University's faculty. It marks a significant step forward in the achievement of constitutional protection for intellectual liberty everywhere. It is now questionable whether the act of swearing one's loyalty, as a condition of academic employment, an act utterly unrelated to academic competence, can constitutionally be required of a professor. Furthermore, the Court's opinion casts a cloud of doubt over the oath laws of twenty-six states which may now be caught in the decision's backwash. The purpose of this article is to set forth a bit of the background, a description, and several of the implications of Washington's loyalty oath case.

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