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The Militant this week
El Militante
State orders end to use of ‘loyalty oath’
Responds to Pennsylvania SWP campaign
Socialist candidates in N.Y.: Nationalize energy industry!
Defeat of Utah coal boss suit: a gain for labor, working class
Israeli military widens ground invasion of Lebanon
City Council in Avon Park, Florida, rejects anti-immigrant ordinance  
State report on Sago explosion faults mine seal construction
Another coal miner dies in Kentucky, bringing year’s toll in United States to 36

A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 70/No. 29August 7, 2006


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Victory for Labor Rights!
Judge signs order dismissing harassment suit by C.W. Mining Co. against UMWA, 16 former Co-Op miners, and the Militant.

(lead article)
A victory for political rights!
State orders end to use of ‘loyalty oath’
Responds to Pennsylvania SWP campaign
Militant/Arrin Hawkins
Osborne Hart (right), SWP candidate for Pennsylvania governor, and John Staggs (left), the party’s candidate for State House District 198 in Philadelphia, with attorney Eric Lieberman of the constitutional rights law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman at the firm’s New York office July 26. Lieberman represented the Socialist Workers campaign in the successful fight against the “loyalty oath” in Pennsylvania.

PHILADELPHIA, July 25—“This is a significant victory for political rights, for the working class,” John Staggs told the Militant today. Staggs, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for State House District 198 here in Philadelphia, was responding to news that Pennsylvania attorney general Thomas Corbett has ordered the Department of State to “discontinue use of the [loyalty] oath” requiring all candidates for public office in the state to swear they are “not a subversive person.”

Louis Boyle, Department of State deputy chief counsel, notified attorney Eric Lieberman of this decision today. Lieberman, of the noted New York City constitutional law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky, and Lieberman, is representing the Pennsylvania Socialist Workers campaign in challenging the oath.

Lieberman had notified state authorities that the SWP campaign would file suit in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 27, to strike down the “anti-subversive” pledge. Lieberman told state authorities his clients would seek a restraining order to prevent them from requiring Staggs to sign the pledge when filing nominating petitions July 31 to be placed on the November ballot.

“Since 1951, when the Pennsylvania Loyalty Act was passed,” Staggs said, “this oath has been a danger to the political rights of every working person, to the union movement, and to all defenders of free speech. We’ve won a victory in defense of workers fighting to organize and strengthen the unions as well as those advocating change—including revolutionary change—in the government.”

Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers candidate for Pennsylvania governor, told the Militant that the capitalist government in Pennsylvania has sought “to keep restrictions like this in place today as they prepare to meet worker and farmer resistance to assaults on our wages and conditions, on and off the job. The wealthy rulers were surprised this spring by the massive working-class mobilizations for immigrant rights, including the first nationwide general political strike in U.S. history. Today’s blow against continued use of the loyalty oath removes an anti-working-class arrow from the quiver of the employing class.

“It will encourage all those, like our campaign, who are fighting to overturn the anti-working-class ‘Illegal Immigration Relief Act,’ passed recently by the city council in Hazleton,” said Hart.  
1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
“The loyalty oath is a remnant of a terrible chapter in American history, when citizens who registered even the slightest dissent from American policies and practices risked accusations of disloyalty and attendant loss of civil liberties and employment,” attorney Eric Lieberman told the Militant. “After years of legal and political struggle, the Supreme Court recognized in a series of decisions from the mid-1960s through the Whitcomb decision in 1974 that use of such oaths violated the First Amendment rights of all people in this country.”

Lieberman was referring to the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Communist Party of Indiana vs. Whitcomb that declared the loyalty oath requirement unconstitutional. In 1975 the State Attorney General issued a formal opinion that its loyalty oath for state employees, which is identical to the current Candidate’s Affidavit, would no longer be enforced. Nonetheless, officials in some states continued to require the oath for those running for public office.

Getting rid of the loyalty oath is not just a question affecting socialist candidates, Staggs pointed out. “It makes it easier for working people to use the ballot to advance their struggles, without facing a political litmus test,” he said. “It’s a victory for all.”

Pennsylvania official Louis Boyle informed Lieberman that the Department of State had received a communication from the Attorney General’s office July 25 saying, “This will confirm that the Whitcomb decision controls the constitutionality of the loyalty oath for candidates for public office in PA. Accordingly, the Department of State should discontinue use of the oath unless and until the Whitcomb decision is overturned.”

“We are particularly pleased that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has acknowledged that the loyalty oath is unconstitutional in today’s climate,” Lieberman said. “We hope this will encourage similar action by those few additional states that retain some version of these odious oaths.”

This victory is a product of more than a year of struggle, said Hart. This includes the successful campaign last year by supporters of Jay Ressler, the SWP candidate for Pittsburgh mayor. City authorities put Ressler on the ballot despite his refusal to sign the oath and the public campaign by his supporters opposing it.  
Petitioning effort
The 2006 SWP ticket in Pennsylvania also includes Ved Dookhun for U.S. Senate, Anthony Lane for Lt. Governor, and Cynthia Jaquith for U.S. Congress in the Pittsburgh-area 14th Congressional District.

The Socialist Workers campaign began a weeklong petitioning effort July 22 to put Staggs, a packinghouse worker in Philadelphia, on the ballot. Campaign supporters plan to gather at least 1,500 signatures—more than three times the requirement. In the first two days of petitioning, 1,156 people in the Germantown area signed up.

“We are campaigning to advance support for workers’ struggles to organize unions and use them to defend themselves and other working people from the bosses’ attacks, and for immediate legalization of all immigrant workers,” said Hart. “We’ve gotten a good response to the socialist campaign platform, including the demands for immediate withdrawal of U.S. and all ‘coalition’ troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and an end to the murderous assault by Tel Aviv, with Washington’s support, against the people of Lebanon and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

One worker who signed said he wanted some help organizing a union at the trucking company where he works. Campaigners agreed to help out and explained that Staggs himself is involved in a union-organizing effort at the Mopac meatpacking plant where he works.

Several working people who signed petitions over the July 22-23 weekend read the loyalty oath, which campaigners had with them, and many were outraged. A couple of signers volunteered to help in the campaign to get it overturned.

Aquisha Marrero, who came to the United States from Cuba, signed the petition, saying she was opposed to the U.S. government’s economic war against Cuba.

“A central demand of our campaign is to end Washington’s cold war against Cuba and to keep U.S. hands off Venezuela too,” responded Hart.

When asked if she had attended any of the recent mobilizations for immigrant rights, Marrero said, “I went to all of them. If you don’t have anything to fight for, you don’t have anything to live for.”

For more information on inviting the socialists candidates to speak, campaigning with them, or making a financial contribution to the SWP campaign, contact the Pennsylvania Socialist Workers 2006 Campaign Committee, 188 W. Wyoming Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19140; Tel: (215) 455-2682; E-mail: paswp2006campaign@verizon.net.
Related articles:
Socialist candidates in N.Y.: Nationalize energy industry!
Nationalize the energy industry!
Statement by SWP Candidates
Initial list of Socialist Worker Party candidates in 2006

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