The Supreme Court invalidated an Arizona statute and its accompanying statutory gloss, which together required employees to take an oath to support the federal and state constitutions, threatening prosecution for perjury and immediate discharge of an employee belonging to any organization committed to overthrowing the government.
Barbara Elfbrandt, a teacher and a Quaker, refused to take the oath and sued on the grounds that the legislature had not adequately explained the meaning of the statute and its accompanying gloss. Her lawyers referred to Baggett v. Bullitt
Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Justice William O. Douglas
Elfbrandt was typical of a half dozen cases in which the Court overturned loyalty oaths on grounds of vagueness or overbreadth. However, in Cole v. Richardson
Assembly and association, freedom of
Keyishian v. Board of Regents