The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOORE
This suit challenges the constitutionality of Sections 3021 and 3022 of the New York Education Law, Section 105 of the New York Civil Service Law, Section 244 of Article XVIII of the Rules of the Board of Regents of the State of New York, and the procedures used under these various statutes and regulations. Section 105 of the Civil Service Law and Sections 3021 and 3022 of the Education Law, as they are now in effect, are set forth in the margin.
Section 244 of Article XVIII of the Rules of the Board of Regents, promulgated after the enactment of Section 3022 of the Education Law, provides that school authorities shall put into effect certain procedures for disqualification and removal of employees who violate Section 3021 of the Education Law or Section 105 of the Civil Service Law. Before appointment of an employee, the nominating official shall inquire of his former employers and of others whether he is known to have violated the statutory provisions, and no person found to have violated the statutes shall be eligible for employment. Each year school authorities shall prepare a report on each employee, stating whether there is any evidence, including membership in an organization listed as subversive by the Board of Regents, indicating that the employee has violated the statutes. If there is such evidence, the reporting official is to recommend the employee's dismissal, and within 90 days after the recommendation has been submitted, the school authorities must either prefer formal charges or reject the recommendation. If charges are preferred against persons serving on probation or having tenure, statutory dismissal procedures shall be followed. "In proceedings against persons serving under contract and not under the provisions of a tenure law, the school authorities shall conduct such hearings * * * as they deem the exigencies warrant, before taking final action on dismissal. In all cases, all rights to a fair trial, representation by counsel and appeal or court review as provided by statute or the Constitution shall be scrupulously observed."
The State University of New York at Buffalo, attempting to comply with the Regents' rules, distributed to all members of the academic staff a booklet containing the Regents' rules and the underlying statutes, and required each faculty member to sign a certificate (the "Feinberg certificate") declaring that he had read the Regents' rules; that the rules and the statutes cited therein constituted terms of his employment; and that he was not now a member of the Communist Party and if he ever had been, he had communicated that fact to the president of the university.
Four of the five plaintiffs in the present action - Keyishian, Hochfield, Garver, and Maud, all under term appointments to the academic staff of the University - declined to sign the certificates, and were notified that if they did not sign as requested their terms would not be renewed on grounds of insubordination. Keyishian's term has ended and his appointment has not been renewed. The terms of two of the other three have not expired and they remain in their former positions. They have been informed that dismissal proceedings will not be started against them until the validity of the statutes, rules, and procedures is determined in the present suit. Maud accepted a position after his term expired in September 1965, again subject to the determination of the present suit, but has resigned from the university.
The fifth plaintiff, Starbuck, was appointed on September 1, 1963, to a one-year term as a specialist in acquisitions for the library. After starting work he was required to fill out a form, one question of which asked: "Have you ever advised or taught or were you ever a member of any society or group of persons which taught or advocated the doctrine that the government of the United States or of any political subdivision thereof should be overthrown or overturned by force, violence, or any unlawful means?" He refused to answer and was dismissed from his appointment on June 18, 1964.
On July 8, 1964, the plaintiffs brought a class action against a large part of the educational hierarchy of the State of New York, seeking an injunction against enforcement of the civil statutes concerning employment of subversives and of the regulations and procedures used to implement those statutes. The District Court held that no substantial federal question was raised, and accordingly refused to refer the case to a three-judge district court. 233 F. Supp. 752 (W.D.N.Y., 1964). The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and directed that the case be heard before a three-judge court. 345 F.2d 236 (2 Cir., 1965).
I. The Constitutionality of the State's Objective.
The plaintiffs argue in part that the complex of laws, regulations, and procedures under attack has no constitutionally valid objective - that they infringe upon freedom of expression without being justified by any legitimate state interest.
The Supreme Court in the Adler case, considering statutes the predecessors of the ones now in question, described the importance of the state interest in preventing the use of the educational system as a platform for urging students to overthrow government by violent means:
A teacher works in a sensitive area in a schoolroom. There he shapes the attitude of young minds towards the society in which they live. In this, the state has a vital concern. It must preserve the integrity of the schools. That the school authorities have the right and the duty to screen the officials, teachers, and employees as to their fitness to maintain the integrity of the schools as a part of ordered society, cannot be doubted.
Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485, 493, 72 S. Ct. 380, 385, 96 L. Ed. 517 (1952).
The Supreme Court has not changed its recognition of the importance of this state interest in recent cases. In 1958, it quoted the above language from Adler with approval, in upholding the dismissal for "incompetency" of a Pennsylvania school teacher who refused to answer a question as to his activities in the Communist Party. Beilan v. Board of Public Education, 357 U.S. 399, 78 S. Ct. 1317, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1414 (1958). In Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 79 S. Ct. 1081, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1115 (1959), the Court upheld the contempt conviction of a former teaching fellow at the University of Michigan, based on his refusal to answer questions of a congressional committee as to his past and present membership in the Communist party. The Court indicated that Congress had a legitimate interest in " inquiring into the extent to which the Communist Party has succeeded in infiltrating into our universities * * * persons and groups committed to furthering the objective of overthrow." 360 U.S. at 129, 79 S. Ct. at 1094. In Cramp v. Board of Public Instruction, 368 U.S. 278, 82 S. Ct. 275, 7 L. Ed. 2d 285 (1961), the Court struck down as unconstitutionally vague a Florida statute requiring state employees to swear that they had never lent their "aid, support, advice, counsel, or influence to the Communist Party"; but the Court did not "question the power of a State to safeguard the public service from disloyalty." 368 U.S. at 288, 82 S. Ct. at 281. Nor does the recent decision of Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 84 S. Ct. 1316, 12 L. Ed. 2d 377 (1964), cast any doubt upon the power of a state to act to prevent the incitement of violent overthrow on university campuses.
The plaintiffs argue that the legitimate state objective recognized by the Court in Adler is not present here, since the teachers here hold positions at universities rather than at public schools. The argument appears to be based upon the comparative maturity of mind of the university student, which entitles him to the privilege of exposure to conflicting political philosophies. But as the American Association of University Professors wrote in their amicus brief in Barenblatt, supra, a case involving a university teacher, "The claims of academic freedom cannot be asserted unqualifiedly. The social interest it embodies is but one of a larger situation, within which the interest in national self-preservation * * * also prominently [appears]." Brief, p. 24. It would not be constitutional to prevent the teaching of Communist philosophy at the university level; but it would be dangerously anomalous to proscribe the advocacy of violent overthrow of government in all parts of the United States, see Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137 (1951), except in the breeding-grounds of the future leaders of the nation. The interest in national self-preservation - "the ultimate value of any society," Dennis at 509, 71 S. Ct. at 867 - applies to the university campus as well as to the rest of our society.
II. The Constitutionality of the Means Used to Attain the State's Objective.
The plaintiffs maintain that even if the statutes and regulations under attack assert a legitimate state objective, they do so in a manner which unduly restricts other interests protected by the Constitution. The plaintiffs invoke a ...