LEFKOWITZ v. INDEP. NORTHERN KLANS, INC.

55 A.D.2d 713 (1976)

Louis J. Lefkowitz, as Attorney-General of The State of New York, Appellant, v. Independent Northern Klans, Inc., et al., Respondents

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Third Department.
December 2, 1976
Koreman, P. J., Greenblott, Sweeney, Mahoney and Larkin, JJ., concur.

The Attorney-General has instituted this proceeding against respondent Independent Northern Klans, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation under section 1101 (subd [a], par [2]) of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, and for injunctive relief against violations of article 5-A of the Civil Rights Law. It is contended that respondent is in violation of section 53 of the Civil Rights Law which requires certain nonbusiness corporations having a membership of 20 or more persons, and which requires an oath as a prerequisite of membership, to file certain documents and information with the Secretary of State. The court at Special Term held that section 53 is constitutional, and we are bound to sustain this ruling under People ex rel. Bryant v Zimmerman (241 N.Y. 405, affd 278 U.S. 63). The court dismissed the petition, however, upon the finding that respondent as a condition of membership requires a pledge rather than an oath. We deem the question of whether or not a vow of fidelity to a secret society constitutes a pledge or an oath to be one of law, and upon careful and comprehensive examination of the language contained in respondent's statement of allegiance, we determine it to be an oath within the spirit and intention of section 53 of the Civil Rights Law.

Judgment reversed, on the law, without costs, and matter remitted to Special Term for further proceedings.


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