Plattsburgh, NY asked in Education Law, Appeals / Appellate Law, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for New York

Q: The censorship of books in libaries. Board of education V. Pico.

"The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the right to receive information is a fundamental right protected under the U.S. Constitution when it considered whether a local school board violated the Constitution by removing books from a school library. In that decision, the Supreme Court held that “the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient’s meaningful exercise of his own rights of speech, press, and political freedom.” Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982)"

So why is it still such a fight to stop censorship both in libraries and in other public (and even private) places?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: The right to receive information, as established in Board of Education v. Pico, is indeed a fundamental one. However, the interpretation and application of this right are complex.

While the Pico case set a precedent, it doesn't mean that all forms of censorship are automatically unconstitutional. Context matters; for example, a school might argue certain materials are not age-appropriate for its students. In addition, societal values and norms change over time, influencing decisions about what's acceptable or not.

Furthermore, the line between selection criteria and censorship is often debated, especially when resources are limited. It's also worth noting that private entities have more leeway in controlling content than public ones. Thus, while the fundamental right to information remains, the boundaries of that right continue to be tested and debated in various contexts.

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