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U.S. Supreme Court

Adler v. Board of Educ. of City of New York, 342 U.S. 485 (1952)

Adler v. Board of Education of City of New York

No. 8

Argued January 3, 1952

Decided March 3, 1952

342 U.S. 485


The Civil Service Law of New York, § 12-a, makes ineligible for employment in any public school any member of any organization advocating the overthrow of the Government by force, violence or any unlawful means. Section 3022 of the Education Law, added by the Feinberg Law, requires the Board of Regents (1) to adopt and enforce rules for the removal of any employee who violates, or is ineligible under, § 12-a, (2) to promulgate a list of organizations described in § 12-a, and (3) to provide in its rules that membership in any organization so listed is prima facie evidence of disqualification for employment in the public schools. No organization may be so listed, and no person severed from or denied employment, except after a hearing and subject to judicial review.

Held: This Court finds no constitutional infirmity in § 12-a of the Civil Service Law of New York or in § 3022 of the Education Law. Pp. 342 U. S. 486-496.

1. Section 3022 and the rules promulgated thereunder do not constitute an abridgment of the freedom of speech and assembly of persons employed or seeking employment in the public schools of New York. Garner v. Los Angeles Board, 341 U. S. 716. Pp. 342 U. S. 491-493.

2. The provision of § 3022 directing the Board of Regents to provide in rules thereunder that membership in any organization so listed by the Board shall constitute prima facie evidence of disqualification for employment in the public schools does not deny members of such organizations due process of law. Pp. 342 U. S. 494-496.

3. The use of the word "subversive" in § 1 of the Feinberg Law, which is a preamble and not a definitive part of the Act, does not render the statute void for vagueness under the Due Process Clause, in view of the fact that, in subdivision 2 of § 3022, it is given a very definite meaning -- i.e., an organization that advocates the overthrow of government by force or violence. P. 342 U. S. 496.

4. The constitutionality of § 3021 of the Education Law not having been questioned in the proceedings in the lower courts and being raised here for the first time, it will not be passed upon by this Court before the state courts have had an opportunity to pass upon it. P. 342 U. S. 496.

301 N.Y. 476, 95 N.E.2d 806, affirmed.

Page 342 U. S. 486

In a declaratory judgment action, the Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, held that subdivision (c) of § 12-a of the New York Civil Service Law, § 3022 of the New York Education Law, and the rules of the State Board of Regents promulgated thereunder violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and enjoined action thereunder by the Board of Education of New York City. 196 Misc. 873, 95 N.Y.S.2d 114. The Appellate Division reversed. 276 App.Div. 527, 96 N.Y.S.2d 466. The Court of Appeals of New York affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division. 301 N.Y. 476, 95 N.E.2d 806. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 342 U. S. 496.

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