Radical alteration and dilution of the Barnes Bill before it over reaches the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives appeared an almost certain prospect last night, as members of the House' Committee on Education prepared to take action on what may well become the hottest political potato that Robert F. Bradford '23 has yet had tossed into his lap in his year and a month as governor.
In place of Barnes' proposals, the committee will probably substitute a bill which would fine Communist teachers, but leave educational institutions and non-teaching employees free from any threat of punishment.
Under the Barnes Bill, not only pro-Communist teachers, but also other employees adhering to Communist doctrines would be liable to one year jail sentences and fines ranging up to $10,000.
Schools employing Communists in any capacity whatever would also be liable to court action.
But while the modified legislation may prove somewhat more pleasing, or at least somewhat less disagreeable to those who have opposed the Barnes measure, it could in the opinion of State House observers, put Governor Bradford very much on the spot.
For should any modified bill reach his desk for approval or veto, the governor would be caught in the middle, between those members of the Republican party, such as Attorney General Clarence A. Barnes, who want to restrict Communists, and more liberal GOPsters who insist on maintaining complete academic freedom in Bay State educational institutions.
Final decision on the Barnes Bill is expected at the Committee on Education's executive session next Monday. Should the bill be reported at all, it will very probably be with an adverse recommendation, according to Representative Ralph W. Sullivan, one of five Democrats on the committee.
The committee will also consider modifications of the Barnes Bill at that time. Such modifications could take the form of an amended Barnes Bill, of entirely separate legislation, or of an amendment to Teachers' Oath Law, which is already on the Massachusetts law books.
The Teachers' Oath Law requires instructors to swear to support the constitution of the United States.