Board of Education v. Pico 457 U.S. 853 (1982)

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BOARD OF EDUCATION v. PICO 457 U.S. 853 (1982)

Six students sued a school board in federal court, claiming that the board had violated their first amendment rights by removing certain books from the high school and junior high school libraries. The board had responded to lists of "objectionable" and "inappropriate" books circulated at a conference of conservative parents. A fragmented Supreme Court, voting 5–4, remanded the case for trial.

Four Justices concluded that it would be unconstitutional for the school board to remove the books from the libraries for the purpose of suppressing ideas. Four others argued for wide discretion by local officials in selecting school materials, including library books. One Justice would await the outcome of a trial before addressing the constitutional issues. Thus, although the decision attracted national attention, it did little to solve the intractable constitutional puzzle of government speech.

Kenneth L. Karst
(1986)