HUC, RGA Oppose Teachers' Oath General Court Kills Repeal Bill
A last-minute attempt to repeal the Massachusetts teachers' loyalty oath Monday in the General Court.
House of Representatives voted 185 to 36 in favor of a Committee on Education report rejecting the repeal bill. The action came despite the fact that Rep. Michael J. Harrington (D. Salem), who wrote the bill, asked the House to reject the committee's report accept his bill for consideration.
Harrington conceded last night that the bill is dead for sure." "Monday's vote was a real disaster," he added.
Rep. William V. Hogan (D-Everett), a former state commander of the American Legion, led the debate against Harrington's attempt to resurrect the bill. Last night he said, "I see nothing with the oath. We take it in government. What's wrong with a teacher, entrusted with youth, taking it?"
General Court's Joint Committee on Education had referred Harrington's the next annual session." Since Massachusetts legislative committees cannot "kill" bills, they use this device to remove a bill from consideration in the current session of the unsuccessful action Monday was an attempt to save the consideration by asking that it be substituted for the committee's report.
Had Harrington been successful the repeal bill would have been placed before the House for debate on its merits that afternoon.
Technically the bill could still be introduced this year. But Harrington said that the margin of Monday's defeat makes it very improbably that he could get four-fifths of the House membership to suspend the rules to re-introduce the bill.
Harrington said that he might try to introduce the bill again next year but noted that the failure of the Democratic House leadership to support him this year will not make the chance of passage next year any easier.
He also noted that it was "very difficult" to engender support for repeal of an oath "that so many consider innocent."
Harrington said that the most convenient way to overturn the oath now, would be to get a decision of unconstitutionality from the Supreme Judicial Court.
He was surprised that no one from Harvard had seriously opposed the oath before Samuel Bowles refused to sign it last fall, he said. The oath has been required since 1935