The California legislature is considering a bill to repeal the law, passed in the heyday of McCarthyism, that permits the firing of Communist Party members who teach in public schools and community colleges. The mainstream media hasn’t noticed, but Fox News, conservative think tanks and the right-wing New York Sun have complained loudly that the repeal "will promote communism in the public schools" (from the Fox News report).

The bill, proposed by a Democratic state Senator from Long Beach, Alan Lowenthal, would also eliminate the state’s loyalty oath. Currently public employees are required to swear that they do not belong to any organization "advocating the forceful or violent overthrow of the government of the US" or of the state of California.

With support from both of California’s big teachers’ unions, the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association, the bill passed its first committee vote, 5-3, on April 2. The Democrats control the both houses of the state legislature, so the chances for passage seem good.

According to a senate staffer quoted by the AP, the bill would still permit the firing of a public empoloyee for advocating the violent overthrow of the government, and permit teachers to be fired for teaching students "a preference for communism."

Nevertheless Fox News quoted a "critic" who declared that, "at a time when California students are struggling to pass basic exams, Senator Lowenthal is focusing on communism – the very government system responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100 million people."

"Communism is still a threat to us," the "critic" told Fox News.

And the New York Sun, in an editorial titled "The California Communists," quoted another "expert" who called the bill the "Communist Rehabilitation and Revision Act."

David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown, told the AP that the Supreme Court "long ago ruled that it violates the First Amendment right of association to deny employment – and even security clearances – based on membership in the Communist Party. . . . Guilt by association is never justified."

The last person in California to be fired from a teaching position for Communist Party membership seems to have been Angela Davis, dismissed from the UCLA Philosophy Department in 1969. Today she holds the Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.