Representative Ralph W. Sullivan's bill to prevent the "teaching of atheistic communism" in Massachusetts schools and colleges was killed by a voice vote in the Senate of the General Court this afternoon. No debate preceded the voting.
Demonstrators carrying signs blasting the Sullivan Bill paraded around the State House before the Senate convened at 2 p.m.
Defeat of Sullivan's proposed law by the Senate was anticipated if a voice vote was used, since Senators' decisions are not recorded. A roll call ballot, however, might have made it difficult to beat, because many legislators were reluctant to oppose the suggested measure, H-442, publicly for fear of being branded "communist sympathizers."
Yesterday's vote culminated a two month wrangle over whether or not Massachusetts was to join other states in the country which have passed "security laws."
A similar battle occurred in February, 1948, when former Attorney General Clarence A. Barnes proposed a similar bill. At that time President Conant and administrative leaders from other Massachusetts colleges flocked to the public hearings to register their opposition to the bill.
The Sullivan Bill appears to have been taken considerably less seriously by educational institutions in the Commonwealth than the Barnes Bill. No representatives from any college testified at the hearing held March 28 before the joint Senate-House Education Committee.
Sullivan, himself, never stumped hard for his bill, which he revised twice before it hit the House floor, where it was approved without vocal dissent. He said when he first filed the bill, "I don't expect it to pass, but it will serve as a warning to trustees that the legislature is prepared to deal with communist infiltration if the colleges don't themselves."