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Red Scare: Nebraska school district asks staff to sign McCarthy-era loyalty pledge

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More than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, a school district in Nebraska is asking teachers to sign an oath designed to root out communist sympathizers.

Hastings Public Schools administrators have asked all staff to attest to their “love and devotion to” the United States government by signing the McCarthy-era loyalty pledge. The school administration says it must ask staff to sign the document because of a 1951 state law that is still on the books.

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“We’re not trying to violate anyone’s constitutional rights,” Hastings Schools Superintendent Craig Kautz told the Associated Press. “As a public school, we can’t selectively decide what laws we abide by and which ones we don’t. I just hope we don’t get dragged into something that’s above our level.”

During the last school year, individuals contacted Kautz about the loyalty pledge and asked why the district did not have its staff sign it. Kautz contacted the district’s attorneys, who told him that Nebraska still had two loyalty pledge statutes on the books — and only one of them was unconstitutional.

Kautz said teachers who don’t sign the loyalty pledge will not face adverse consequences, because there is no penalty provision in the law.

“Our job is to comply with the law to the best of our ability but to say that we are forcing employees to take a McCarthy-era loyalty oath is just not accurate,” he told the Lincoln Journal Star.

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But the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska says what the school district is doing is still unconstitutional.

“These oaths or pledges violate the Constitution. They are unduly vague and infringe on the First Amendment rights of the employees,” the ACLU wrote in a letter to the school district.

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“You need to know that the statute is a dead letter law which has been clearly overruled by the highest court in the land. Attempting to enforce the state statue is unconstitutional and will expose the school district to liability to a civil rights lawsuit.”

Read the pledge below:

I, ………., do believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; an indissoluble nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

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I acknowledge it to be my duty to inculcate in the hearts and minds of all pupils in my care, so far as it is in my power to do, (1) an understanding of the United States Constitution and of the Constitution of Nebraska, (2) a knowledge of the history of the nation and of the sacrifices that have been made in order that it might achieve its present greatness, (3) a love and devotion to the policies and institutions that have made America the finest country in the world in which to live, and (4) opposition to all organizations and activities that would destroy our present form of government.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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‘There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there’: Joe Biden at Cape Cod fundraiser

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Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Republican lawmakers in DC as "decent people" during a campaign fundraiser held at Cape Cod.

"There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there," Biden argued, according to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.

"I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but...every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me," he said.

”Because they know I respect the other team. I do. They’re decent people," Biden claimed. "They ran because they care about things, but they’re intimidated right now.”

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Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia trainings at ‘The Base’ near Spokane: report

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One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

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