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In the aftermath of World War II, amid concerns about communist infiltration in the United States, employers in government, education, and other arenas began to make use of loyalty oaths, a widespread practice with an extensive history tracing its origins to the ancient world. Educators and other public employees in the government and educational systems were required to sign such oaths as a condition of employment. As oaths became increasingly far reaching in nature, some forbade educators from joining specified organizations, while others required individuals to attest that they did not engage in specified (typically political) activities or belong to particular organizations. Although such activities and memberships would not ordinarily make applicants subject to criminal sanctions, failure to attest to the required oaths resulted in ...

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