Cramp v. Board of Public Instruction
368 U.S. 278 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cramp v. Board of Public Instruction, 368 U.S. 278 (1961)

Cramp v. Board of Public Instruction or Orange County

No. 72

Argued October 16, 1961

Decided December 11, 1961

368 U.S. 278

Syllabus

A Florida statute requires every employee of the State and its subdivisions to swear in writing that, inter alia, he has never lent his "aid, support, advice, counsel or influence to the Communist Party." It requires immediate discharge of any employee failing to subscribe to such an oath. Appellant, a teacher in a public school of the State, refused to file such an oath and sued in a state court for a judgment declaring the statute unconstitutional and enjoining its enforcement. He alleged, in effect, that he had not done any of the things mentioned in the statute, as he understood it, but that its meaning was so vague as to deprive him of liberty or property without due process of law. The State Supreme Court held the statute constitutional, and denied relief.

Held:

1. Notwithstanding his allegation that he had not done any of the things mentioned in the required oath, appellant was not without standing to attack the statute on the ground that it was so vague as to deprive him of liberty or property without due process of law. Pp. 368 U. S. 280-285.

2. The meaning of the required oath is so vague and uncertain that the State cannot, consistently with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, force an employee either to take such an oath, at the risk of subsequent prosecution for perjury or face immediate dismissal from public service. Pp. 368 U. S. 285-288.

125 So.2d 554 reversed.

Page 368 U. S. 279

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