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Meyer v. Nebraska

Academic Freedom And The Constitution

In 1915, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) adopted a statement establishing certain guidelines for academic freedom. The AAUP, together with the Association of American Colleges, in 1940 produced a revision to the earlier statement, which it published as Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The statement, which called for freedom in the realms of research, publication, and teaching, has been incorporated into the charters of numerous colleges, and has been endorsed by more than 100 academic organizations.

Academic freedom emerged as a significant issue in the 1950s for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the effort led by Senator Joseph McCarthy to identify and censure persons with Communist sympathies. In Sweezy v. New Hampshire (1957), the Supreme Court reversed a contempt conviction against a Marxist academician who refused to answer questions regarding his political sympathies. Justice Felix Frankfurter, concurring in the opinion, quoted with approval a statement by anti-Apartheid South African scholars regarding "`the four essential freedoms of a university'--to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study."

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Meyer v. Nebraska - Significance, From Language To Personal Liberty, Greater Impact For The Future, Academic Freedom And The Constitution