Is Illinois’ loyalty oath a waste of taxpayers’ money? Or just a ‘dated Cold War scare tactic?’

Glowiak Hilton contends the form is a waste of taxpayer’s dollars, but elections officials dispute that. “The financial cost of it, is pretty inconsequential,” said Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

SHARE Is Illinois’ loyalty oath a waste of taxpayers’ money? Or just a ‘dated Cold War scare tactic?’
Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. File Photo

Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. File Photo

AP

Sen. Joe McCarthy has been dead for more than 60 years, but the Red Scare may still not be over in Illinois.

State Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs, said Illinois can save money by removing the state’s optional loyalty oath, a Cold War-era vestige in which candidates for office pledge they are not affiliated with a communist organization.

Glowiak Hilton introduced a bill that would remove the loyalty oath from a packet of forms candidates file when they run for office. Candidates can sign an optional form affirming they are “not affiliated directly or indirectly with any communist organization or any communist front organization.”

“This dated Cold War scare tactic wastes taxpayer dollars and has an immeasurable cost to our natural resources,” Glowiak Hilton said in a statement. “Printing a separate page for the oath for every candidate who files in Illinois not only wastes paper, but the time and energy of the public servants who administer our elections.”

Glowiak Hilton contends the form is a waste of taxpayer’s dollars, but elections officials dispute that.

“The financial cost of it, is pretty inconsequential,” said Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections, about eliminating the loyalty oath.

State Sen. Suzanne “Suzy” Glowiak Hilton in 2018. File Photo.

State Sen. Suzanne “Suzy” Glowiak Hilton in 2018. File Photo.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Dietrich said most candidates print the forms they need to run for office on their own, meaning the Board of Elections prints few, if any, loyalty oaths.

The forms also do not cause much administrative work, as election staff barely spends any time reviewing the forms, Dietrich said.

“If you took the loyalty oath out, you know, you wouldn’t be saving —I think — any measurable time on filing day,” Dietrich said.

A spokesman for Glowiak Hilton said he could not provide an estimate on potential costs savings if the bill were to pass, saying the senator’s office was working with officials from the Illinois State Board of Elections on it.

Glowiak Hilton did sign the loyalty oath when she last filed to run for office in 2017, according to documents she submitted to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Loyalty oaths became common across the United States during the 1940s and 50s, when lawmakers around the country became suspicious about the infiltration of communists into American institutions.

With the communist revolution in China and Wisconsin’s Red-baiting McCarthy raising tensions with congressional hearings in Washington, many states passed their own versions of loyalty oaths. Candidates were required to pledge their allegiance to the United States and to swear they were not a member of a communist organization to run for office.

Illinois passed its law requiring candidates sign a loyalty oath in 1951, but a federal judge struck it down as unconstitutional in 1972.

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