The Supreme Court Of The United States

.. estraint “may be lurking in these cases and would have been flushed had they been properly considered in the trial courts, free from the unwarranted deadlaw) Justice Harlan still had many questions which he wanted answered and woul d have sent this case back to the lower courts for further hearings, during whic h time he would have continued the temporary restraining order on the publicatio n of these materials to remain in effect. Harlan said “he could not believe that the doctrine prohibiting prior restraints reaches to the point of preventing co urts from maintaining the status quo long enough to act responsibly in matters o f such national importance.” (Findlaw) The Supreme Court decision in this case was a clear defeat for advocates of prio r restraint under conditions of wartime or other national crisis. The decision also encouraged the media in their efforts to check federal government officials or hold them accountable by obtaining and publishing information that the gover nment wants to keep away from the public’s view. The debate over freedom of the press is brought up again in the Supreme Court case of Board of Education, Island Trees v.

Pico. This case deals with th e issue of banned books in a public high school library, and the right to censor what people can and cannot read. This case began on the night of November 7, 1 975 when two members of the district’s school board walked out of the meeting an d into the school library. These two school board members, Frank Martin, and th e school board president Richard Ahrens, went and removed a total of 11 books fr om the library and other rooms in the school (Gold, 17). dlines and frenetic pressures.” (Fin Three months later after a regularly scheduled school board meeting certain scho ol board members met with the superintendent of the school district, Richard Mor row.

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The school board members demanded that these books, which had since been r eplaced back in the school, be removed again so that the school board members ca n read them and decide weather they should be kept off the shelves or not. Morr ow told them that he did not agree with their action, and told them to follow a policy they had previously agreed upon for reviewing books in times like this. Nonetheless the books were removed and brought to Morrow’s office, as he still h oped to get the board members to allow the books to be placed back on the shelve s (Gold, 22). The eleven books that had been removed from the school were Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; The Fixer by Bernard Malamud; The Naked Ape bye Desmond Morris ; Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas; Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, e dited by Langston Hughes; A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich by Alice Childress ; Soul on Ice bye Eldridge Cleaver; A Reader for Writers, edited by Jerome Arche r; Go Ask Alice, author anonymous; Laughing Boy by Oliver LaFarge; and Black Boy by Richard Wright (Gold, 13) These books remained banned, and this issue ballooned in the amount of p ublicity over it. It got to the point where on January 4, 1977 five students ba cked by the NYCLU filed a lawsuit against the school board in New York State Sup reme Court. The five students that filed the suit against the school board were Steven A.

Pico, the president of the senior class; Jacqueline Gold; Russell Rie ger; Glenn Yarris; as well as Paul Sochinski from the junior high school. Pico, Rieger, and Gold were on the staff of the school newspaper, the Bulldog (Gold, 37). In their lawsuit, the students claimed the school board members removed the nine books because particular passages in the books “offended their social, political, and moral tastes.” (Zeinert, 67). They said this was not a lawful re ason for banning the books. The lawsuit went on to claim that the board had vio lated the students’ First Amendment rights. It asked the court to declare the b ook removal unconstitutional.

It also asked the judge to order the board to ret urn the books to school, where they had been before the removal (Gold, 40). After this case made its way through the State court level, which the sc hool board won, and the federal court level, which the students won, the school board appealed its case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard the case on March 2, 1982 at their building in Washington D.C. Their decision came in on June 25, 1982 when they voted 5-4 that the school board must replace the books i t had removed nearly 7 years earlier (Findlaw). The majority opinion for this case was written by Justice Brennan, who s aid that there were two questions that needed to be answered in this case.

Firs t, did the First Amendment impose limitations on the school board’s authority to remove these books? And if it did, did the book ban exceed those imitations? H is stance was that the First Amendment does limit the school board’s authority t o remove books from the school. He also argued that although school boards have control over school curriculum and educational policy, that control must not vi olate constitutional rights, in this case, the First Amendment. He noted this p recedent was set in the Barnette case. Along with him, Justices Blackmun, White , Stevens, and Marshall agreed with the Pico side of this case (Findlaw). In the dissenting opinion written by Justice Burger he argued that becau se the books could be found outside the school library, the school board ban did not prevent the students from reading them.

Burger also said that the school w as also not obligated to provide access to the books, and that there was no diff erence between removing a book and not acquiring one. The school board has the full right not to acquire a book for its school’s library, and therefore should have the full right to remove one. His feeling that the school board should hav e been victorious was shared by Justices Powell, Rehnquist, and O’Connor (Findla w).