Events of the Loyalty Oath Controversy and Historical Background
the year. . .
a celebrated “spy trial” Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are convicted of
transmitting atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, and sentenced to death.
United States Supreme Court in Dennis v. United States supports
the effective outlawing of the U.S. Communist Party.
United States begins nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.
Over seven years more than 100 open-air tests will be held.
All UC employees except one research assistant and eleven teaching
assistants at Berkeley have signed the Levering Oath.
The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Northern Section of the Academic
Senate releases a report entitled The Consequences of the Abrogation of Tenure.
It argues that the University has suffered harm because of
the Regents action, particularly by dismissing non-signing faculty
“to whom all forms of totalitarianism are equally loathsome."
It is noted that 55 courses are not being taught because their
faculty were lost, faculty at more than 40 other American colleges
and universities have opposed the Regents action, and 47 distinguished
individuals have refused to accept faculty positions at UC because
of the oath.
The District Court of Appeal rules in Tolman v. Underhill that
the Regents acted improperly and violated the Constitutional requirement
that the University be free of all political and sectarian influence
and that faculty are public officers under the Constitution and cannot
be subjected to any test of loyalty other than the State Constitutional
Oath. The Regents are
ordered to issue letters of appointment to the non-signers.
The attorney for the Regents files a petition for rehearing in the
morning. The Regents meet in
the afternoon. A motion
to withdraw the petition for rehearing carries eleven to ten.
Once again Regent Neylan changes his “no” vote to “yes” so
he can move for reconsideration at the next meeting.
The Regents meet and by a vote of 12-10 (Neylan is not at the meeting)
refuse to reconsider their votes on August 20 not to appeal the court
The California Supreme Court, on its own motion, takes Tolman
v. Underhill as a case to review.
This suspends the lower court decision, and the Regents are no
longer required, for the time being, to re-appoint the nonsigners.
The Northern Section of the Academic Senate meets and votes 350-0 to ask
the Regents to reinstate the non-signers and rescind the oath.
New appointments have shifted the power on the Board of Regents in favor
of Governor Warren’s anti-oath faction.
The Regents meet. A motion is
made to rescind the oath, but reaffirm the Regents policy on not employing
Communists. It passes,
12-8, but is scheduled for reconsideration in November.
The vote to reconsider the Regents’ action of October 19 fails 12-5.
In essence, the University returned to its conditions of employment
prior to the adoption of the special oath.
However, the State’s Levering Oath was still required of UC
employees: thus, the Regents implicitly accepted an oath imposed on the
University by the State Legislature.
The State Supreme Court hands down its decision in Tolman v. Underhill.
It states that “university personnel cannot properly be required
to execute any other oath or declaration relating to loyalty other
than that prescribed for all state employees.”
The non-signers are ordered reinstated.
The Regents meet and unanimously vote not to petition the Supreme Court
for a rehearing in Tolman v.
California voters decide if the Levering Oath should be added to the State
Constitution. They approve of
the oath, 2,700,000 to 1,200,000.
Sixteen of the non-signers go to court to seek full back pay for the
period they were dismissed.
The non-signers and the University settle.
The Regents grant back pay for the period of July 1, 1950, through
December 31, 1952, minus other income received during that period, and
also grant full credit towards sabbatical leave and pension rights.
The non-signers waive any claim to payment of interest on
back-salaries and other considerations.
to the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors
vote to censure the University of California saying that “The net effect
of the (University’s action) has been to weaken academic freedom and to
deny essential rights to the faculty members who resisted” the oath.
Compiled by Steve Finacom