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"Pacifist Cal State Teacher Gets Job Back":

The S.F. Chronicle reports:

A Cal State East Bay math teacher and practicing Quaker who was fired for refusing to sign a state-required loyalty oath got her job back this week, with an apology from the university and a clarification that the oath does not require employees to take up arms in violation of their religious beliefs....

In a grievance hearing Thursday conducted in a telephone conference call, an attorney for the California State University chancellor's office presented Kearney-Brown with a statement saying in part, "Signing the oath does not carry with it any obligation or requirement that public employees bear arms or otherwise engage in violence."

With that statement stapled to the loyalty oath, and a promise by the university to present the clarifying language to other new employees, Kearney-Brown said Friday that she felt comfortable signing the form and returning to work.

For more on this story, see our earlier post.

glangston (mail):
Would they be required to just say no or what?

Seems like it's time to retire the loyalty oath.
3.8.2008 10:10pm
Sean M:
Good on the university for doing the right thing in the end.
3.8.2008 10:15pm
A.S.:
As was pointed out to me in the comments to the original post, the teacher was originally presented to option to also include a signing statement clarifying that the oath did not require her to take up arms. She rejected that option at the time.

So what's the difference now?

Other than, you know, she go a lot of publicity for her stunt?
3.8.2008 10:30pm
lucia (mail) (www):
A.S.
The original news story said she was allowed to include a note in her personnel file but not attach the note to the oath itself. These are different.

I realize that you may not see them as different, but modifying the oath, or attaching a document directly to the note is not precisely the same as including an entirely separate document in a file folder.

For her, these were, evidently differences.

In addition, having a representative state specifically state, in writing, that the language does not mean what it seems to say in normal spoken English, and informing her of this fact also can make a tangible difference if one feels one cannot affirm a falsehood for religious reasons.

Religion is funny like that. A person can think some point is very, very important. Outsiders can thing it's the tiniest nit living on the top of another gnit. And yet, to the religious, this nit of a nit matters.
3.8.2008 10:52pm
A.S.:
The original news story said she was allowed to include a note in her personnel file but not attach the note to the oath itself. These are different.

So, the difference was the staple? The staple? Really?

language does not mean what it seems to say in normal spoken English

There is no language that seems to say that violence is required to fulfill the affirmation. That was a pure inference on her part.
3.8.2008 11:20pm
ithaqua (mail):
"As was pointed out to me in the comments to the original post, the teacher was originally presented to option to also include a signing statement clarifying that the oath did not require her to take up arms. She rejected that option at the time. "

Her option, then, was to falsely swear the oath and then sign this other piece of paper saying that she didn't really intend to obey the oath she swore? I mean, I know Bush does it all the time, but some people really do take their word and their signature seriously...
3.8.2008 11:50pm
Klerk (mail) (www):
So, the difference was the staple?

I actually would buy this. To use an analogy from the legal field - a separate note would be like legislative history bearing on the interpretation of the oath, or parole evidence bearing on a written contract.

Whether the staple is just a nit of a nit, however, is irrelevant. The new deal has a much greater compromise from the University: "a promise by the university to present the clarifying language to other new employees." Thus, even if you dont think the staple changes anything in the case of the individual teacher, this teacher can now safely sign having made the oath safe for all candidates of her religion (i.e. not just a note in her file).
3.8.2008 11:54pm
Hey Skipper:
For the addendum to be truthful, it needed to add:

"... but I will be happy to allow others to take up arms on my behalf."

She, and all other pacifists, need to read this essay by Steven den Beste: http://denbeste.nu/essays/pacifism.shtml
3.9.2008 1:02am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Can't omit the oath entirely. The US Constitution requires state officials of all types to take an oath supporting it, in general terms (not specifiying enemies foreign or domestic, but also not excluding the use of violence). It was a fairly big issue in the early Republc, because diehard antifederalists would have been excluded from state as well as federal offices.
3.9.2008 1:52am
pgepps (www):
Not a pacifist, myself, but I do see a difference, here. Her idea of altering the oath, or the final solution of a statement attached to and proffered with the oath, both (at least symbolically) indicate the meaning *before* she signs. Signing it and then including a [subsequent] statement just indicates something about her state of mind; there is no reason anyone should consider her statement (quite unlike a Constitutional officer's) when interpreting the oath she signed.
3.9.2008 1:54am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
"Signing the oath does not carry with it any obligation or requirement that public employees bear arms or otherwise engage in violence."

Now where are they going to get the conscripts for the Cal State East Bay army?
3.9.2008 5:05am
Dave N (mail):
What ffdw said. Or not.

Seriously, a sensible solution. But government ever being sensible? Go figure.
3.9.2008 5:10am
Nate W. (mail):
@A.S.
So, the difference was the staple? The staple? Really?
I take it you aren't a lawyer. A staple is the difference between a document being part of the contract or being just a contemporaneous writing with no binding effect. Likewise, a staple is the difference between being part of the statute or just being legislative history. Staples matter. Go to your office and hug your Swingline.
3.9.2008 6:07am
Public_Defender (mail):

Can't omit the oath entirely. The US Constitution requires state officials of all types to take an oath supporting it, in general terms (not specifiying enemies foreign or domestic, but also not excluding the use of violence). It was a fairly big issue in the early Republc, because diehard antifederalists would have been excluded from state as well as federal offices.

The Constitution only requires an oath or affirmation "to support this Constitution. . . ." It says nothing about "defend." Do you know when that was added? Also, are math teachers really an "executive officer[]" of a state?

Here's the key language from Article VI:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution. . . .
3.9.2008 7:53am
Gary McGath (www):
IANAL, but I find it highly unlikely that teachers are considered executive or judicial officers under the law.

There's no reason for loyalty oaths for ordinary state employees. A terrorist would happily sign such an oath anyway, since it's merely to a secular authority.
3.9.2008 9:02am
Federal Dog:
Idiots. No reasonable person could read that and believe it required armed combat.
3.9.2008 9:22am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Swore several oaths in my life. When I got my first passport, I had the choice, so I did. I recall it being similar to an earlier one I had taken requiring me to uphold, protect and defend, etc, but lacked the bit about obeying those lawfully appointed over me.
Ditto applying for Christmas help at the post office.
Long time ago. Maybe things have changed.
3.9.2008 10:33am
dearieme:
"A terrorist would happily sign such an oath anyway, since it's merely to a secular authority." I think you must have a rather particular sort of terrorist in mind?
3.9.2008 11:10am
Wugong:
Swore several oaths in my life. When I got my first passport, I had the choice, so I did...Long time ago. Maybe things have changed.

I'm quite sure you no longer have to swear an oath to get a passport. If this did not used to be the case, I wonder when it changed.
3.9.2008 11:31am
Fub:
Federal Dog wrote at 3.9.2008 8:22am:
Idiots. No reasonable person could read that and believe it required armed combat.
Yeah. And no reasonable person would ever read "the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." to mean "except for scary looking guns, or handguns, or guns with short barrels, or...".

And no reasonable person would ever read "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" to mean "unless the religion wants to use some drug we don't want them to use".

And no reasonable person would ever read "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people" to mean "this is an inkblot".

And ... I don't need to go on here. No reasonable person could fail to understand what I'm talking about -- except those that do.
3.9.2008 11:43am
T. Gracchus (mail):
A point which seems to be overlooked in the preceding comments is that the teacher is devout Quaker, and so is under particular constraints as to oaths. A little more attention to facts would be helpful. The CSU legal department came up with an appropriate solution to an HR mistake. Good for them.
3.9.2008 12:57pm
glangston (mail):
The oaths for teachers were from the 50's and don't seem to be related to any interpretation of the US Constitution. Some were just to uphold the Constitution but others related to subversion and party membership.

Here are the acts and conditions you swear to in your passport application.

(If any of the below-mentioned acts or conditions have been performed by or apply to the applicant, the portion
which applies should be lined out, and a supplementary explanatory statement under oath (or affirmation) by the
applicant should be attached and made a part of this application.) I have not, since acquiring United States
citizenship, been naturalized as a citizen of a foreign state; taken an oath or made an affirmation or other formal
declaration of allegiance to a foreign state; entered or served in the armed forces of a foreign state; accepted or
performed the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or political
subdivision thereof; made a formal renunciation of nationality either in the United States, or before a diplomatic or
consular officer of the United States in a foreign state; or been convicted by a court or court martial of competent
jurisdiction of committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms
against, the United States, or conspiring to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force, the Government of the
United States.
3.9.2008 1:12pm
Gary McGath (www):
dearieme wrote: '"A terrorist would happily sign such an oath anyway, since it's merely to a secular authority." I think you must have a rather particular sort of terrorist in mind?'

The kind of terrorist that's most often invoked these days when the government is trying to make us feel scared. You're right that there are other terrorists who wouldn't care about a religious oath either, but they're a minor factor in the US.
3.9.2008 5:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Wugong.
I was told it was optional. But, out of habit, I straightened up and swore. Didn't get me in as much trouble as an earlier one.
3.9.2008 7:26pm
Peter Wimsey:
There's a significant difference between the *teacher* providing her own explanatory statement about what the oath means and the *state* (in the person of her employer) providing an explanatory statement about what it believes the oath means. Regardless of whether it is stapled or not.
3.9.2008 8:19pm
K Parker (mail):
Skipper,

Well, these guys don't seem all that happy about letting others take up arms on their behalf. Neither do these folks.
3.10.2008 4:45am
Anderson (mail):
OH NOES!!! Obviously, this concession to the Quakers shows that our depraved liberal society is determined to abandon its defenses rather than hold the borders against the Muslim hordes! Dhimmitude! Dhimmitude! Dhimmitude!!!
3.10.2008 11:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
K Parker. With some effort, the CPT captured by terrorists in Iraq actually did thank the guys who rescued them.
And, in front of the Berkely Marine recruiting office, Medea Benjamin had a potentially violent confrontation with a passerby. She, naturally, screamed for help from the Marines.
It isn't necessary to showcase hypocrisy like this. We all know all about it.
Were the folks you mention in any sort of real threat, they'd save their scruples for after the dust settled. As if that's not clear.
3.10.2008 1:10pm
Ben Samuel (mail):
I don't think the oath should suggest that everyone has to take up arms. But an oath is like a creed: it only works when it's the same for everyone. Your organization shouldn't have an oath if most of it is irrelevant to the organization's purpose and if there's no practical consequence to ignoring it.

BTW, can anyone explain the difference between "swear" and "affirm"?


When university officials offered during Thursday's telephone conference to reinstate Kearney-Brown with back pay, she burst into tears.


Jeez, lady, get a grip.
3.10.2008 2:40pm
JosephSlater (mail):
"Get a grip" because she cried with joy after hearing that she got a job she thought she was going to lose? Back when I was doing labor and employment law, I saw folks cry when they heard they would be reinstated to a job they had lost. Jobs are, to many people, a big deal.
3.10.2008 4:44pm
Halcyon (mail):

BTW, can anyone explain the difference between "swear" and "affirm"?


As per the American Heritage Dictionary:

Swear: 1. To make a solemn declaration, invoking a deity or a sacred person or thing, in confirmation of and witness to the honesty or truth of such a declaration.

Affirm: 1. To declare positively or firmly; maintain to be true.

From what I understand Quakers don't believe it's right to take a vow, etc in the name of G-d, which is why they won't swear on something.
3.10.2008 5:05pm