FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2015
LINCOLN, Neb – Following complaints from educators in multiple school districts, the ACLU of Nebraska today issued guidance to all public school superintendents advising them that requiring public employees to sign “loyalty pledges” like the one adopted for educators in Nebraska in 1951, is unconstitutional. Last week the ACLU contacted Hastings Public Schools following complaints from Hastings educators.
“The court case striking down loyalty oaths in Nebraska is one of the earliest in the ACLU’s nearly 50 year history of protecting the individual rights and liberties of all Nebraskans,” said ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Danielle Conrad. “No educator who loves teaching should have to choose between their jobs or their First Amendment rights of free speech or religious freedom.”
The letter says that multiple court cases, including ones decided by the United States Supreme Court and the Lancaster County District Court of Nebraska, have struck down similar loyalty oaths. In the U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1967, the court stated, “Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.”
“We are pleased that Hastings Public Schools has said it will not require employees to sign the pledge,” said Conrad, “However, even presenting this pledge has created a distraction for the district and confusion among valued team members. We encourage schools to leave this unconstitutional loyalty pledge in the past where it belongs so they can focus on providing a high quality education to their students.”