SHELTON V. TUCKER, 364 U. S. 479 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479 (1960)

Shelton v. Tucker

No. 14

Argued November 7, 1960

Decided December 12, 1960*

364 U.S. 479


An Arkansas statute requires every teacher, as a condition of employment in a state supported school or college, to file annually an affidavit listing without limitation every organization to which he has belonged or regularly contributed within the preceding five years. Teachers in state supported schools and colleges are not covered by a civil service system, they are hired on a year-to-year basis, and they have no job security beyond the end of each school year. The contracts of the teachers here involved were not renewed, because they refused to file the required affidavits.

Held: The statute is invalid, because it deprives teachers of their right of associational freedom protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state action. Pp. 364 U. S. 480-490.

(a) There can be no doubt of the right of a State to investigate the competence and fitness of those whom it hires to teach in its schools. P. 364 U. S. 485.

(b) To compel a teacher to disclose his every associational tie is to impair his right of free association, a right closely allied to freedom of speech and a right which, like free speech, lies at the foundation of a free society. Pp. 364 U. S. 485-487.

(c) The unlimited and indiscriminate sweep of the statute here involved and its comprehensive interference with associational freedom go far beyond what might be justified in the exercise of the State's legitimate inquiry into the fitness and competence of its teachers. Pp. 364 U. S. 487-490.

174 F.Supp. 351 and 231 Ark. 641, 331 S.W.2d 701, reversed.

Page 364 U. S. 480

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