Court Decides Anti-Red Bill Is Unconstitutional
Legislature Has No Right to Pass Law
The State Supreme Court declared yesterday that the proposed anti-Communist teachers bill is unconstitutional.
In an advisory opinion to the Legislature the Court declared that the provisions of the bill would be "an interference with the exercise of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination." They would represent "a form of compelling a person through fear of legal consequences to accuse, or furnish evidence against himself," the opinion continued.
Two weeks ago the House of Representatives asked the Justices to make this advisory opinion before it took any final action on the bill, which would compel both public and private schools and colleges to dismiss teachers refusing to testify about their Communist affiliations.
Rep. John P. McMorrow '47 (D-Suffolk), who recommended that the House send the bill to the Court for an advisory opinion, said last night the Court's opinion was "of historic significance." He said he was particularly interested in the section which dealt with a previous decision by the same court in the case of Faxon vs. Board of Education (1953).
This case involved a teacher at Boston Latin who was dismissed by the school board for refusing to testify about his relations with Communism. The Court upheld the dismissal, claiming the board had the rights "of an employer in the selection and retention of employees suitable to the enterprise in hand."
There was no attempt to interfere generally with the petitioner's practice of his profession, the justices said yesterday in their advisory opinion. "The question was whether the school committee could be compelled to employ the petitioner in a public position.
"The question now before us is whether all employers, public or private, can be compelled not to employ a person who has exercised his constitutional right. The difference is obvious," the justices maintained.