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In Shelton v. Tucker (1960), the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court was whether a state statute requiring all public school educators to disclose every organization to which they belonged over a five-year period was unconstitutional. In its 5-to-4 ruling, the Court held that the broad requirements of the statute were unconstitutional, because it went beyond the scope of legitimate and substantial inquiries of teacher fitness and competency.

Facts of the Case

Shelton revolved around an Arkansas statute that required all public school teachers, administrators, and college faculty to make annual reports of their organizational affiliations for the preceding five years. Initially, plaintiffs filed two separate actions challenging the statute. One case went through the federal courts, while the other worked its way through state courts in ...

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