MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
An Arkansas statute compels every teacher, as a condition of employment in a state-supported school or college, to file annually an affidavit listing without limitation every organization to which he has belonged or regularly contributed within the preceding five years. At issue in these two cases is the validity of that statute under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. No. 14 is an appeal from the judgment of a three-judge Federal District Court upholding the statute's validity, 174 F.Supp. 351. No. 83 is here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Arkansas, which also held the statute constitutionally valid. 231 Ark. 641, 331 S.W.2d 701.
The statute in question is Act 10 of the Second Extraordinary Session of the Arkansas General Assembly of 1958. The provisions of the Act are summarized in the opinion of the District Court as follows:
The plaintiffs in the Federal District Court (appellants here) were B. T. Shelton, a teacher employed in the Little Rock Public School System, suing for himself and others similarly situated, together with the Arkansas Teachers Association and its Executive Secretary, suing for the benefit of members of the Association. Shelton had been
The plaintiffs in the state court proceedings (petitioners here) were Max Carr, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas, and Ernest T. Gephardt, a teacher at Central High School in Little Rock, each suing for himself and others similarly situated. Each refused to execute and file the affidavit required by Act 10. Carr executed an affirmation
It is urged here, as it was unsuccessfully urged throughout the proceedings in both the federal and state courts, that Act 10 deprives teachers in Arkansas of their
First. There can be no doubt of the right of a State to investigate the competence and fitness of those whom it hires to teach in its schools, as this Court before now has had occasion to recognize. "A teacher works in a sensitive area in a schoolroom. There he shapes the attitude of young minds towards the society in which they live. In this, the state has a vital concern." Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485, 493. There is "no requirement in the Federal Constitution that a teacher's classroom conduct be the sole basis for determining his fitness. Fitness for teaching depends on a broad range of factors." Beilan v. Board of Education, 357 U.S. 399, 406.
This controversy is thus not of a pattern with such cases as N. A. A. C. P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, and Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516. In those cases the Court held that there was no substantially relevant correlation between the governmental interest asserted and the State's effort to compel disclosure of the membership lists involved. Here, by contrast, there can be no question of the relevance of a State's inquiry into the fitness and competence of its teachers.
Second. It is not disputed that to compel a teacher to disclose his every associational tie is to impair
The statute does not provide that the information it requires be kept confidential. Each school board is left free to deal with the information as it wishes.
The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools. "By limiting the power of the States to interfere with freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry and freedom of association, the Fourteenth Amendment protects all persons, no matter what their calling. But, in view of the nature of the teacher's relation to the effective exercise of the rights which are safeguarded by the Bill of Rights and by the Fourteenth Amendment, inhibition of freedom of thought, and of action upon thought, in the case of teachers brings the safeguards of those amendments vividly into operation. Such unwarranted inhibition upon the free spirit of teachers . . . has an unmistakable tendency to chill that free play of the spirit which all teachers ought especially to cultivate and practice; it makes for caution and timidity in their associations by potential teachers." Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 195 (concurring opinion). "Scholarship cannot flourish in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate . . . ." Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 250.
The question to be decided here is not whether the State of Arkansas can ask certain of its teachers about all their organizational relationships. It is not whether the State can ask all of its teachers about certain of their associational ties. It is not whether teachers can be asked how many organizations they belong to, or how much time they spend in organizational activity. The question is whether the State can ask every one of its teachers to disclose every single organization with which he has
In a series of decisions this Court has held that, even though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved.
In Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, the Court invalidated an ordinance prohibiting all distribution of literature at any time or place in Griffin, Georgia, without a license, pointing out that so broad an interference was unnecessary to accomplish legitimate municipal aims. In
As recently as last Term we held invalid an ordinance prohibiting the distribution of handbills because the breadth of its application went far beyond what was necessary to achieve a legitimate governmental purpose. Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60. In that case the Court noted that it had been "urged that this ordinance is aimed at providing a way to identify those responsible for fraud, false advertising and libel. Yet the ordinance is in no manner so limited . . . . Therefore we do not pass on the validity of an ordinance limited to prevent these or any other supposed evils. This ordinance simply bars all handbills under all circumstances anywhere that do not have the names and addresses printed on them in the place the ordinance requires." 362 U. S., at 64.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, dissenting.
As one who has strong views against crude intrusions by the state into the atmosphere of creative freedom in which alone the spirit and mind of a teacher can fruitfully function, I may find displeasure with the Arkansas legislation now under review. But in maintaining the distinction between private views and constitutional restrictions, I am constrained to find that it does not exceed the permissible range of state action limited by the Fourteenth Amendment. By way of emphasis I therefore add a few words to the dissent of MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, in which I concur.
It is essential, at the outset, to establish what is not involved in this litigation:
(1) As the Court recognizes, this is not a case where, as in N. A. A. C. P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, and Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516, a State, asserting the power to compel disclosure of organizational affiliations, can show no rational relation between disclosure and a governmental interest justifying it. Those cases are relevant here only because of their recognition that an interest in privacy, in non-disclosure, may under appropriate circumstances claim constitutional protection. The question here is whether that interest is overborne by a counter-vailing public interest. To this concrete, limited question —whether the State's interest in knowing the nature
(2) The Court's holding that the Arkansas statute is unconstitutional does not, apparently, rest upon the threat that the information which it requires of teachers will be revealed to the public. In view of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Arkansas, decision here could not, I believe, turn on a claim that the teachers' affidavits will not remain confidential. That court has expressly said that "Inasmuch as the validity of the act depends upon its being construed as a bona fide legislative effort to provide school boards with needed information, it necessarily follows that the affidavits need not be opened to public inspection, for the permissible purpose of the statute is to enlighten the school board alone." 231 Ark. 641, 646, 331 S.W.2d 701, 704. If the validity of the statute depended on this matter, the pronouncement of the State's highest judicial organ would have to be read as establishing—the earlier view of the State Attorney General notwithstanding—that the statute does not authorize the making public of the affidavits. Even were the Arkansas court's language far more ambiguous than it is, it would be our duty so to understand its opinion, in accordance with the principle that "So far as statutes fairly may be construed in such a way as to avoid doubtful constitutional questions they should be so construed." Fox v. Washington, 236 U.S. 273, 277.
(3) This is not a case in which Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296; Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 558; and Kunz v. New York, 340 U.S. 290, call for condemnation of the "breadth" of the statute. Those decisions struck down licensing laws
In the present case the Court strikes down an Arkansas statute requiring that teachers disclose to school officials all of their organizational relationships, on the ground that "Many such relationships could have no possible bearing upon the teacher's occupational competence or fitness." Granted that a given teacher's membership in the First Street Congregation is, standing alone, of little relevance to what may rightly be expected of a teacher, is that membership equally irrelevant when it is discovered that the teacher is in fact a member of the First Street Congregation and the Second Street Congregation and the Third Street Congregation and the 4-H Club and the 3-H Club and half a dozen other groups? Presumably, a teacher may have so many divers associations, so many divers commitments, that they consume his time and energy and interest at the expense of his work or even of his professional dedication. Unlike wholly individual interests, organizational connections—because they involve obligations undertaken with relation to other persons
If I dissent from the Court's disposition in these cases, it is not that I put a low value on academic freedom. See Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 194 (concurring opinion); Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 255 (concurring opinion). It is because that very freedom,
I am authorized to say that MR. JUSTICE CLARK, MR. JUSTICE HARLAN and MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER agree with this opinion.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, whom MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, MR. JUSTICE CLARK and MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER join, dissenting.
Of course this decision has a natural tendency to enlist support, involving as it does an unusual statute that touches constitutional rights whose protection in the context of the racial situation in various parts of the country
The issue is whether, consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment, a State may require teachers in its public schools or colleges to disclose, as a condition precedent to their initial or continued employment, all organizations to which they have belonged, paid dues, or contributed within the past five years. Since I believe that such a requirement cannot be said to transgress the constitutional limits of a State's conceded authority to determine the qualifications of those serving it as teachers, I am bound to consider that Arkansas had the right to pass the statute in question, and therefore conceive it my duty to dissent.
The legal framework in which the issue must be judged is clear. The rights of free speech and association embodied in the "liberty" assured against state action by the Fourteenth Amendment (see De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 364; Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 672, dissenting opinion of Holmes, J.) are not absolute. Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 708; Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 373 (concurring opinion of Brandeis, J.). Where official action is claimed to invade these rights, the controlling inquiry is whether such action is justifiable on the basis of a superior governmental interest to which such individual rights must yield. When the action complained of pertains to the realm of investigation, our inquiry has a double aspect: first, whether the investigation relates to a legitimate governmental purpose; second, whether, judged in the light of that purpose, the questioned
In the two cases at hand, I think both factors are satisfied. It is surely indisputable that a State has the right to choose its teachers on the basis of fitness. And I think it equally clear, as the Court appears to recognize, that information about a teacher's associations may be useful to school authorities in determining the moral, professional, and social qualifications of the teacher, as well as in determining the type of service for which he will be best suited in the educational system. See Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485; Beilan v. Board of Public Education, 357 U.S. 399; see also Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U.S. 551. Furthermore, I take the Court to acknowledge that, agreeably to our previous decisions, the State may enquire into associations to the extent that the resulting information may be in aid of that legitimate purpose. These cases therefore do not present a situation such as we had in N. A. A. C. P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, and Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516, where the required disclosure bears no substantial relevance to a legitimate state interest.
Despite these considerations this statute is stricken down because, in the Court's view, it is too broad, because it asks more than may be necessary to effectuate the State's legitimate interest. Such a statute, it is said, cannot justify the inhibition on freedom of association which so blanket an inquiry may entail. Cf. N. A. A. C. P. v. Alabama, supra; Bates v. Little Rock, supra.
I am unable to subscribe to this view because I believe it impossible to determine a priori the place where the line should be drawn between what would be permissible inquiry and overbroad inquiry in a situation like this. Certainly the Court does not point that place out. There can be little doubt that much of the associational information
I do not mean to say that alternatives such as an enquiry limited to the names of organizations of whose character the State is presently aware, or to a class of organizations defined by their purposes, would not be more consonant with a decent respect for the privacy of the teacher, nor that such alternatives would be utterly unworkable. I do see, however, that these alternatives suffer from deficiencies so obvious where a State is bent upon discovering everything which would be relevant to its proper purposes, that I cannot say that it must, as a matter of constitutional compulsion, adopt some such means instead of those which have been chosen here.
Finally, I need hardly say that if it turns out that this statute is abused, either by an unwarranted publicizing of the required associational disclosures or otherwise, we would have a different kind of case than those presently before us. See Lassiter v. Northampton Elections Board, 360 U.S. 45, 53-54. All that is now here is the validity of the statute on its face, and I am unable to agree that in this posture of things the enactment can be said to be unconstitutional.
I would affirm in both cases.
Section 2 provides: "No superintendent, principal, or teacher shall be employed or elected in any elementary or secondary school by the district operating such school, and no instructor, professor, or other teacher shall be employed or elected in any institution of higher learning, or other educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds, by the trustees or governing authority thereof, until, as a condition precedent to such employment, such superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor or professor shall have filed with such board of trustees or governing authority an affidavit as to the names and addresses of all incorporated and/or unincorporated associations and organizations that such superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor or professor is or within the past five years has been a member of, or to which organization or association such superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor, professor, or other teacher is presently paying, or within the past five years has paid regular dues, or to which the same is making or within the past five years has made regular contributions."
Section 3 sets out the form of affidavit to be used.
Section 4 provides: "Any contract entered into by any board of any school district, board of trustees of any institution of higher learning, or other educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds, or by any governing authority thereof, with any superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor, professor, or other instructional personnel, who shall not have filed the affidavit required in Section 2 hereof prior to the employment or election of such person and prior to the making of such contracts, shall be null and void and no funds shall be paid under said contract to such superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor, professor, or other instructional personnel; any funds so paid under said contract to such superintendent, principal, teacher, instructor, professor, or other instructional personnel, may be recovered from the person receiving the same and/or from the board of trustees or other governing authority by suit filed in the circuit court of the county in which such contract was made, and any judgment entered by such court in such cause of action shall be a personal judgment against the defendant therein and upon the official bonds made by such defendants, if any such bonds be in existence."
Section 5 provides that a teacher filing a false affidavit shall be guilty of perjury, punishable by a fine, and shall forfeit his license to teach in any school or other institution of learning supported wholly or in part by public funds.
Section 6 is a separability provision.
Section 7 is an emergency clause, reading in part as follows:
"It is hereby determined that the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in the school segregation cases require solution of a great variety of local public school problems of considerable complexity immediately and which involve the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the State of Arkansas, and that the purpose of this act is to assist in the solution of these problems and to provide for the more efficient administration of public education."