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A Paradigm of First Amendment Dilemmas: Resolving Public School Library Censorship Disputes

104 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2011  

Leora Harpaz

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 1981


In recent years courts have begun to ponder the first amendment issue of public school library book censorship. These fledgling judicial efforts have produced a mostly inadequate analysis of the complex legal picture presented by school library book censorship. Courts that desire to intervene in censorship disputes almost unthinkingly have relied on first amendment doctrines developed outside of the censorship area and assumed their easy application to this new problem. Courts that take a hands-off attitude toward the area rely heavily on the appropriateness of judicial intervention as their central theme. Nowhere to be found in these judicial responses is there a comprehensive analysis of the difficult issues raised by these cases. Recently, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case of school library censorship. That case may establish the first amendment boundaries of such disputes, or it may mark only the first of several Supreme Court probings of this complex problem. In advance of any Supreme Court resolution, this Article explores the school library censorship area with attention to the subtleties that beset any easy resolution of the problem. Its attempt is to highlight the often overlooked first amendment difficulties in the area even more than to provide clear solutions to the problems raised. This Article strives to point out where the cases fail and what issues require further probing before an adequate intellectual framework for dealing with the area can be created.

Keywords: public school libraries, book censorship, first amendment, education law

Suggested Citation

Harpaz, Leora, A Paradigm of First Amendment Dilemmas: Resolving Public School Library Censorship Disputes (August 1, 1981). Western New England Law Review, Vol. 4, p. 1, 1981. Available at SSRN:

Leora Harpaz (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

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