Author to speak about Supreme Court case involving communism and UB

Published March 21, 2013

Civil liberties activist Marjorie Heins will appear at UB on March 25 to discuss her latest book, which details the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by five UB faculty members that made it unlawful for states to discriminate against Communist Party members.

Heins will speak from 12:30-2 p.m. in 509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus; food will be served at noon. The event is co-sponsored by the University Archives and the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy in the UB Law School

Heins also will speak and sign copies of her book at 5 p.m. March 23 at Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main St., Buffalo.

Heins’ book, “Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom and the Anti-Communist Purge” (New York University Press, 2013), examines the right to academic freedom and events leading up to the court’s 1967 decision in Keyishian v. Board of Regents.

In the early 1950s, teachers and professors were the targets of investigations into their political beliefs and associations, and this landmark decision held that states cannot prohibit employees from being members of the Communist party, ending an era of political repression and heresy hunts.

The original case—against New York’s required loyality oath—was brought by Harry Keyishian, George Starbuck, Ralph Maud and George Hochfield, faculty members in the UB Department of English, and Newton Garver of the UB philosophy department, and Buffalo attorney Richard Lipsitz. The Supreme Court overturned the state’s requirement.

Heins, who used collections in the UB Archives to conduct research for the book, will be joined in the discussion by Garver and Lipsitz, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.

For more information, contact Nancy Nuzzo, director of the music library and special collections, at or 645-2935.