Keyishian v. Board of Regents

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Keyishian v. Board of Regents
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 17, 1966
Decided January 23, 1967
Full case name Keyishian, et al. v. Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, et al.
Citations 385 U.S. 589 (more)
87 S. Ct. 675; 17 L. Ed. 2d 629; 1967 U.S. LEXIS 2454
States cannot prohibit employees from being members of the Communist Party. Such laws are overbroad and too vague.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
Tom C. Clark · John M. Harlan II
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Abe Fortas
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined by Warren, Black, Douglas, Fortas
Dissent Clark, joined by Harlan, Stewart, White
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that states cannot prohibit employees from being members of the Communist Party and that this law was overbroad and too vague.


New York State had laws that prohibited state employees from belonging to any organization that advocated the overthrow of the US government or was "treasonous" or "seditious." The regents of the State University of New York also required teachers and employees to sign an oath that they were not members of the Communist Party.

Some faculty and staff of the University were terminated for refusing to sign the oath and appealed to the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, overturned the New York state laws prohibiting membership in seditious groups because it was too vague and was overbroad. That largely reversed the 1952 decision in Adler v. Board of Education, in which Irving Adler had been dismissed for the New York City public school system because of a previous connection with the Communist Party USA.

See also


External links

  • Works related to Keyishian v. Board of Regents at Wikisource
  • Text of Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967) is available from:  Justia  Library of Congress  Oyez (oral argument audio) 
  • Heins, Marjorie. (2012, January 23). "The Keyishian Ruling: 25 Years Later," Academe Blog
  • Wilson, John K. (2012, January 23). "Interview with Harry Keyishian," Academe Blog

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