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California may soon end ban on Communists in government jobs

California's Assembly voted to revise a law that alleged being a Communist is a fireable act for government workers


Rachel Leah
May 10, 2017 5:05AM (UTC)

Some lasting remnants of the Cold War are finally being addressed in California, as lawmakers passed a bill on Monday revising a 1953 law that allowed government officials to be fired if it is found that they are members of the Communist Party.

The bill was barely passed with 41 votes in the state Assembly and will now go to the Senate. It's a repeal of a law enacted "during the Red Scare of the 1940s and '50s when fear that communists were trying to infiltrate and overthrow the U.S. government was rampant," The Associated Press reported.

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Assembly Bill 22 was authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, (D-Oakland), who noted that the original law was outdated. "It's an old and archaic reference," Bonta told the Los Angeles Times. Bonta explained that he created the bill in order to remove the language referencing Communism specifically. Employees could still face termination for being members of any other organization that advocates the overthrow of the government. The bill is "really just a technical fix to remove that reference to a label that could be misused or abused, and frankly, has been in the past, in some of the darker chapters of our history in this country," Bonta told The Times.
Some Republican assemblymen have already spoken out against the bill, including Randy Voepel, who said Communists are "still a threat," according to the Times.
"This bill is blatantly offensive to all Californians," said Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen. "Communism stands for everything that the United States stands against."
But Bonta does not agree.
"Part of having a functioning democracy and a fair and equitable society is to make sure you're actually basing your decisions to take someone's job away," he said. "Based on their actual conduct, their actual behavior and actual proof and evidence, not just some loose label that could be applied overbroadly in a way that is unfair and unjust."

Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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California Communism Red Scare Rob Bonta

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