The proposition that the Hatch Act needs revision because the First Amendment rights of federal employees are significantly impaired needs examination {editorial, July 23}. The act does not limit employees' right to vote, to contribute money to individual political candidates or organizations, to attend partisan political functions, to wear buttons endorsing specific candidates or to paste bumper stickers on their cars touting candidates, political parties or particular political points of view. What they can't do is stuff envelopes, staff telephone banks, make speeches, take campaign leadership roles or raise funds for a major political party (Republican or Democratic) or for a candidate of a major political party. In short, they are precluded from labeling themselves Republican or Democratic federal employees. That doesn't exactly transform them into second-class, disenfranchised, muzzled citizens.

Consider the alternatives. Does the American public want to be served by a politically neutral, professional civil service on which it can depend to execute the law in an impartial, nonpartisan fashion? Or does it want to be perennially concerned about whether its eligibility for Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, farm or small-business loans or income tax liability is being determined by a partisan federal work force more interested in who the claimant/applicant/taxpayer supported in the last election?

The Post's second point was that implementation of the Hatch Act has generated confusion and misunderstanding among federal employees as to what they are permitted to do in the political arena. The law doesn't need to be broadened or modified to correct that. The Merit Systems Protection Board should be pushed to review and revise the implementing regulations and publish clearer guidelines so that federal employees will understand the law better.

The biggest problem with the Hatch Act, in my view, is that it probably works too well to suit some politicians who feel limited in their ability to involve federal employees in their campaigns, and some federal employee organizations that believe they could expand their political clout if their members were freer to engage in partisan politics. Their interests are not necessarily the interests of federal employees or the American public. J. M. SCHULMAN Silver Spring