Adler v. Board of Education: The Supreme Court rules 6-3 to uphold a New York law mandating the dismissal of teachers who belong to "subversive" organizations (like the communist party).
The Board of Regents had been given the authority under the Feinberg Law to determine what organization is and is not "subversive" and their decisions cannot be appealed to any impartial judge. Whether a teacher had actively done anything "subversive" or not was irrelevant, as was their skill or history as a teacher.
The Feinberg Law had been passed after President Harry Truman called for "loyalty" investigations of federal employees. The case is named for Irving Adler, a math teacher and a leader in the teachers' union American Federation of Teachers.
According to the Supreme Court,
A teacher works in a sensitive area in a school room. There he shapes the attitude of young minds towards the society in which they live. In this, the state has a vital concern. It must preserve the integrity of the schools.
That the school authorities have the right and the duty to screen the officials, teachers, and employees as to their fitness to maintain the integrity of the schools as a part of ordered society, cannot be doubted. One's associates, past and present, as well as one's conduct, may properly be considered in determining fitness and loyalty.
From time immemorial, one's reputation has been determined in part by the company he keeps. In the employment of officials and teachers of the school system, the state may very properly inquire into the company they keep, and we know of no rule, constitutional or otherwise, that prevents the state, when determining the fitness and loyalty of such persons, from considering the organizations and persons with whom they associate."
This decision is widely supported in American society. Most agree with The New York Times which opines that
"the state had a constitutional right to protect the immature minds of children in its public schools from subversive propaganda, subtle or otherwise, disseminated by those 'to whom they look for guidance, authority and leadership.'"
In a dissenting opinion, though, justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, and Felix Frankfurter complain that the law "turns the school system into a spying project."
The challenge to the New York law was brought by Irving Adler, an author and scientist who was among many New York teachers who refused to answer the question "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party."
It was being asked of them by the New York Superintendent of Schools, William Jansen, and all those who refused to answer (New York Civil Service Law forbids questioning civil service employees about their political affiliations) are fired for "insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher."
In 1967 the Supreme Court will reverse this decision, paving the way for all the fired teachers to be reinstated with full pension rights.