Professor says Georgia college had him sign pledge saying he isn’t a Communist Party member

College says the document was wrongly included in application
U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (1950s)

Credit: Lois Norder

Credit: Lois Norder

U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (1950s)

A professor who recently applied to teach at a Georgia technical college said he had to sign a loyalty oath affirming he’s not a member of the Communist Party.

The educator, Bill Ellenberg, contacted the ACLU of Georgia after receiving a stack of documents during his application to teach at Lanier Technical College that included the oath. The ACLU on Tuesday sent a letter to the college demanding it end the policy, saying the oath violates state law and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Sean J. Young, the ACLU of Georgia’s legal director said in a statement that the oath “is reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths in the 1950s that required Americans to disavow membership in the Communist Party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activities. Rooting out employees who are or are thought to be members of the Communist Party was unconstitutional during the Cold War, and it remains unconstitutional today.”

Ellenberg, 66, signed the oath because he said he’s not a communist. Still, he was stunned by the document and said he raised his concerns with college officials.

“I felt kind of angry and absolutely flabbergasted that in 2018 that people still had such policies in place,” Ellenberg said in a telephone interview.

“It’s wrong,” he added.

The college said the oath was mistakenly included in the application. It’s investigating how that happened, a spokesman said.

“We were inadvertently using the incorrect form,” the college said in a statement. “It was rectified as soon as it was brought to the attention of the president and we are now using the correct form.”

Ellenberg said he decided not to teach at the college.

Lanier Technical College has campuses in Barrow, Dawson, Forsyth, Hall and Jackson counties.

Most state employees are required to sign an oath supporting the state and federal constitutions.