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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Miami-Dade School Board Is Toast

I was going to wait until the morning to post this but with a debate raging over at Critical Miami, this is going up now.

The Miami-Dade School Board doesn't have a chance when the ACLU files their lawsuit next week. How can I say this?

Easy. Just take a look at Board of Educ., Island Trees Union Free School District. No. 26 v. Pico, heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982.

Here are the facts of that case (emphasis is mine):
A New York school board removed nine books from the local high school and junior high school libraries claiming the books were "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy." Five students sued, claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated. The U.S. District Court granted a summary judgment in favor of the school board. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and remanded the case for trial. The school board appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What are the legal principles at issue of the case?
The case represents the balancing between the broad discretion of local school boards in educational matters [Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)] and students’ First Amendment rights. West Virginia Board of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969).

What is the legal basis for the decision?
Though recognizing that school boards have broad discretion in managing school affairs, the Court ruled that the First Amendment places limitations on when school officials can remove books from libraries. While school boards have discretion to determine the content of their libraries they may not exercise it "in a narrowly partisan or political manner." The Court concluded that school boards may not remove books because they find them offensive or because they disagree with the ideas contained in those books.

Why is this case important?
The case represents the first and only time the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the question of when school authorities can remove books from school libraries. The Court enhanced students’ First Amendment rights by finding a "right to receive information and ideas" and prohibiting the "suppression of ideas." The Court limited its decision to the removal of books and did not address school officials’ discretion in the acquisition of books or in the establishment of school curricula.

If they were smart, the Miami-Dade School Board would reverse their decision before they spend thousands of county taxpayer dollars defending themselves in a civil rights lawsuit that they are guaranteed to lose.

Many of the residents of Miami-Dade County have a long way to go before they understand what freedom really is. They would do well to start with the United States Constitution.



  • You are the FREAKIN' MAN!

    By Miamista, at 2:34 AM  

  • Maybe the school board hasn't a prayer -- sorry, make that "chance" -- but at least they struck a blow in defense of the rights of invertebrates.

    By Steve, at 9:04 AM  

  • I'm screwed on this - I'm paying for that lawsuit on both ends, with my ACLU fees and as a taxpayer. Just great. Man, I wish we could send the bill to Frank Bolaños, Tabares Hartman, the father of the kid, etc; let's see what would happen then.

    By gansibele, at 1:04 PM  

  • "I wish we could send the bill to Frank Bolaños, Tabares Hartman, the father of the kid, etc; let's see what would happen then."

    My thoughts exactly, gansibele. Hold them all accountable for their ignorance.

    By Rick, at 1:30 PM  

  • You know I am reminded of the Jones Act which fortunately was partially repealed but unfortunately left some of the more dangerous and onerous portions. The act even said that the Puerto Rican flag, when displayed in a fashion to incite sedition, is illegal. And that part, along with a whole bunch more repressive provisions is still there, not enforced except in a few periods when there was need to have grounds to hold people. All this is to say that "rights" or the Constitution is not an absolute protection of our rights. As long as there is a will to repress and people who will let it occur (because they are not aware, do not care or think repression of certain ideas is alright) there will be repression. This is not the only fight and but it is surely a worthy one. -John

    By Miamista, at 4:03 AM  

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