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Keyishian v. Board of Regents
Argued November 17, 1966
Decided January 23, 1967
Full case nameKeyishian, et al. v. Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, et al.
Citations385 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
MajorityBrennan, joined by Warren, Black, Douglas, Fortas
DissentClark, 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.[1]


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,[2] 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


  1. ^ "Opinion | DEI Goals Are Worthy. Campus DEI Bureaucracies Fail Them". The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 15, 2023. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  2. ^ Wermiel, Stephen (2009). "Keyishian v. Board of Regents (1967)". The First Amendment Encyclopedia presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. Archived from the original on August 28, 2023. Retrieved August 28, 2023.