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Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico

United States Supreme Court
457 U.S. 853 (1982)


Facts

Three board members of the Board of Education of the Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 (the board) (defendant) attended a conference sponsored by a politically conservative organization. The conference distributed a list of books that were described as objectionable and improper fare for school students. The members discovered that 10 of those books were contained in the school district’s libraries. The board then directed that the 10 books be removed from the libraries and delivered to the board for review. This action was publicized, and the board issued a press release that described the books as anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic. The board appointed a committee to review the books and recommend whether to return them to the libraries. The committee recommended returning at least five of the books. The board rejected the committee’s recommendations without explanation. The board decided to permanently remove nine books and make the tenth book available only with parental approval. A group of students from the school district (plaintiffs) sued the board, alleging that the removal of the books violated the First Amendment. The district court granted the board’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the claims. The plaintiffs appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the decision and remanded the case. The board petitioned to have the Second Circuit’s decision overturned, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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