The LA Times ran an article today: “Teacher Fired for Refusing to Sign Loyalty Oath”. It seems that 38-year-old Wendy Gonaver has been relieved of her teaching posts at California State University/Fullerton because she declined to sign an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” A Quaker and a pacifist, Gonaver believes that the pledge violates her freedoms of speech and religion. She was not allowed to make any amendments, leaving her to choose between pledging allegiance to government or to her personal and religious beliefs. She chose not to sign.
According to the LA Times, all state, city, county, public school, community college and public university employees (about 2.3 million people) are required to sign California’s loyalty oath. (Curiously, non-citizens are exempt. Go figure.) No records are kept on how many citizens are denied these jobs because they refuse to sign.
California’s constitution starts off with the declaration of rights. Two sections seem directly relevant to this story:
Section 1: All men (!) are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty…and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
Section 4: The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed in this State: and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness on account of his opinions on matters of religious belief…
It seems strikingly odd that one should be stripped of these rights when one refuses to sign an oath pledging allegiance to defend these same rights. Well, at least we’ve still got New Hampshire!