The Corporation would not contest a Superior Court order, instructing it to reinstate Samuel S. Bowles, President Pusey said yesterday.
Pusey explained that Bowles's dismissal for refusing to sign the Massachusetts Teachers' Loyalty Oath was made effective March 31, instead of the end of February, so that he would have time to sue for reinstatement. Bowles, an instructor in Economics, said yesterday that his lawyer, Gerald Berlin, had not yet filed suit but would do so in the next few days.
The issue in the case, Pusey explained, is not whether the University should fire Bowles, but whether the Corporation should disregard the laws of the Commonwealth. In this instance, Pusey added, the University does not feel there is warrant for ignoring the law.
"I would not be put in jail, and the University's land would not be attached," Pusey said, if the Corporation simply overlooked Bowles' refusal to sign the oath. But such action would endanger the good relations between the University and the Commonwealth that have been established over the last 150 years, Pusey said.
If, however, the Corporation had thought the oath harmful, it would not have fired Bowles, and would have taken action through the courts to have the oath nullified.
Joseph Pediosky, assistant professor of Mathematics at M.I.T. has already obtained a Superior Court injunction prohibiting the Institute to fire him. Pusey said Bowles will be able to get a similar order.
(Since Bowles has already been fired, it is not an injunction but a reinstatement order that he seeks.)
Pediosky is challenging the constitutionality of the oath in a suit now pending before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. If the oath is held unconstitutional, Pusey said, there will be no problem. If not, he said, Bowles will have to sign or be fired.
Bowles said last week that the Corporation's decision to terminate his appointment was made "without having fully explored the possibilities of postponing the decision" until the constitutionality of the oath has been tested.
The oath, he added, "represents a politically inspired interference with the independence of the university, an invasion of the teacher's privacy of opinion, and an inhibition of his freedom of speech."