457 U.S. 853
June 25, 1982, Decided

JUSTICE BRENNAN announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which JUSTICE MARSHALL and JUSTICE STEVENS joined, and in which JUSTICE BLACKMUN joined except for Part II-A-(1).

The principal question presented is whether the First Amendment n1 imposes limitations upon the exercise by a local school board of its discretion to remove library books from high school and junior high school libraries.


Petitioners are the Board of Education of the Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26, in New York, and Richard Ahrens, Frank Martin, Christina Fasulo, Patrick Hughes, Richard Melchers, Richard Michaels, and Louis Nessim. When this suit was brought, Ahrens was the President of the Board, Martin was the Vice President, and the remaining petitioners were Board members. The Board is a state agency charged with responsibility for the operation and administration of the public schools within the Island Trees School District, including the Island Trees High School and Island Trees Memorial Junior High School. Respondents are Steven Pico, Jacqueline Gold, Glenn Yarris, Russell Rieger, and Paul Sochinski. When this suit was brought, Pico, Gold, Yarris, and Rieger were students at the High School, and Sochinski was a student at the Junior High School.

In September 1975, petitioners Ahrens, Martin, and Hughes attended a conference sponsored by Parents of New York United (PONYU), a politically conservative organization of parents concerned about education legislation in the State of New York. At the conference these petitioners obtained lists of books described by Ahrens as "objectionable,"  and by Martin as "improper fare for school students." It was later determined that the High School library contained nine of the listed books, and that another listed book was in the Junior High School library.  [The nine books in the High School library were: Slaughter House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Naked Ape, by Desmond Morris; Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas; Best Short Stories of Negro Writers, edited by Langston Hughes; Go Ask Alice, of anonymous authorship; Laughing Boy, by Oliver LaFarge; Black Boy, by Richard Wright; A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich, by Alice Childress; and Soul On Ice, by Eldridge Cleaver. The book in the Junior High School library was A Reader for Writers, edited by Jerome Archer. Still another listed book, The Fixer, by Bernard Malamud, was found to be included in the curriculum of a 12th-grade literature course.]  In February 1976, at a meeting with the Superintendent of Schools and the Principals of the High School and Junior High School, the Board gave an "unofficial direction" that the listed books be removed from the library shelves and delivered to the Board's offices, so that Board members could read them.  When this directive was carried out, it became publicized, and the Board issued a press release justifying its action. It characterized the removed books as "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-[Semitic], and just plain filthy," and concluded that "[it] is our duty, our moral obligation, to protect the children in our schools from this moral danger as surely as from physical and medical dangers."

A short time later, the Board appointed a "Book Review Committee," consisting of four Island Trees parents and four members of the Island Trees schools staff, to read the listed books and to recommend to the Board whether the books should be retained, taking into account the books' "educational suitability," "good taste," "relevance," and "appropriateness to age and grade level." In July, the Committee made its final report to the Board, recommending that five of the listed books be retained (The Fixer, Laughing Boy, Black Boy, Go Ask Alice, and Best Short Stories by Negro Writer) and that two others be removed from the school libraries (The Naked Ape and Down These Mean Streets).  As for the remaining four books, the Committee could not agree on two (Soul On Ice and A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich),  took no position on one (A Reader for Writers),  and recommended that the last book be made available to students only with parental approval (Slaughter House Five).  The Board substantially rejected the Committee's report later that month, deciding that only one book should be returned to the High School library without restriction (Laughing Boy),  that another should be made available subject to parental approval (Black Boy),  but that the remaining nine books should "be removed from elementary and secondary libraries and [from] use in the curriculum."  The Board gave no reasons for rejecting the recommendations of the Committee that it had appointed.

Respondents reacted to the Board's decision by bringing the present action under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They alleged that petitioners had "ordered the removal of the books from school libraries and proscribed their use in the curriculum because particular passages in the books offended their social, political and moral tastes and not because the books, taken as a whole, were lacking in educational value."

Respondents claimed that the Board's actions denied them their rights under the First Amendment. They asked the court for a declaration that the Board's actions were unconstitutional, and for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief ordering the Board to return the nine books to the school libraries and to refrain from interfering with the use of those books in the schools' curricula.

The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of petitioners.  In the court's view, "the parties substantially [agreed] about the motivation behind the board's actions,"  -- namely, that "the board acted not on religious principles but on its conservative educational philosophy, and on its belief that the nine books removed from the school library and curriculum were irrelevant, vulgar, immoral, and in bad taste, making them educationally unsuitable for the district's junior and senior high school students."

With this factual premise as its background, the court rejected respondents' contention that their First Amendment rights had been infringed by the Board's actions. Noting that statutes, history, and precedent had vested local school boards with a broad discretion to formulate educational policy, the court concluded that it should not intervene in "'the daily operations of school systems'" unless "'basic constitutional values'" were "'sharply [implicated],'"  and determined that the conditions for such intervention did not exist in the present case. Acknowledging that the "removal [of the books] . . . clearly was content-based," the court nevertheless found no constitutional violation of the requisite magnitude....

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the judgment of the District Court, and remanded the action for a trial on respondents' allegations....


We emphasize at the outset the limited nature of the substantive question presented by the case before us. Our precedents have long recognized certain constitutional limits upon the power of the State to control even the curriculum and classroom. For example, Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), struck down a state law that forbade the teaching of modern foreign languages in public and private schools, and Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), declared unconstitutional a state law that prohibited the teaching of the Darwinian theory of evolution in any state-supported school. But the current action does not require us to re-enter this difficult terrain, which Meyer and Epperson traversed without apparent misgiving. For as this case is presented to us, it does not involve textbooks, or indeed any books that Island Trees students would be required to read. Respondents do not seek in this Court to impose limitations upon their school Board's discretion to prescribe the curricula of the Island Trees schools. On the contrary, the only books at issue in this case are library books, books that by their nature are optional rather than required reading. Our adjudication of the present case thus does not intrude into the classroom, or into the compulsory courses taught there. Furthermore, even as to library books, the action before us does not involve the acquisition of books. Respondents have not sought to compel their school Board to add to the school library shelves any books that students desire to read. Rather, the only action challenged in this case is the removal from school libraries of books originally placed there by the school authorities, or without objection from them.

The substantive question before us is still further constrained by the procedural posture of this case. Petitioners were granted summary judgment by the District Court. The Court of Appeals reversed that judgment, and remanded the action for a trial on the merits of respondents' claims. We can reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and grant petitioners' request for reinstatement of the summary judgment in their favor, only if we determine that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact," and that petitioners are "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."  Furthermore, "[on] summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in [the affidavits, attached exhibits, and depositions submitted below] must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion."

In sum, the issue before us in this case is a narrow one, both substantively and procedurally. It may best be restated as two distinct questions. First, does the First Amendment impose any limitations upon the discretion of petitioners to remove library books from the Island Trees High School and Junior High School? Second, if so, do the affidavits and other evidentiary materials before the District Court, construed most favorably to respondents, raise a genuine issue of fact whether petitioners might have exceeded those limitations? If we answer either of these questions in the negative, then we must reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstate the District Court's summary judgment for petitioners. If we answer both questions in the affirmative, then we must affirm the judgment below. We examine these questions in turn.



The Court has long recognized that local school boards have broad discretion in the management of school affairs. We have also acknowledged that public schools are vitally important "in the preparation of individuals for participation as citizens," and as vehicles for "inculcating fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system."  We are therefore in full agreement with petitioners that local school boards must be permitted "to establish and apply their curriculum in such a way as to transmit community values," and that "there is a legitimate and substantial community interest in promoting respect for authority and traditional values be they social, moral, or political."

At the same time, however, we have necessarily recognized that the discretion of the States and local school boards in matters of education must be exercised in a manner that comports with the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment. In West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, we reasoned:  "Boards of Education . . . have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes...."

In short, "First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to . . . students."  Of course, courts should not "intervene in the resolution of conflicts which arise in the daily operation of school systems" unless "basic constitutional values" are "directly and sharply [implicated]" in those conflicts. But we think that the First Amendment rights of students may be directly and sharply implicated by the removal of books from the shelves of a school library. Our precedents have focused "not only on the role of the First Amendment in fostering individual self-expression but also on its role in affording the public access to discussion, debate, and the dissemination of information and ideas." And we have recognized that "the State may not, consistently with the spirit of the First Amendment, contract the spectrum of available knowledge."  In keeping with this principle, we have held that in a variety of contexts "the Constitution protects the right to receive information and ideas."  This right is an inherent corollary of the rights of free speech and press that are explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution, in two senses. First, the right to receive ideas follows ineluctably from the sender's First Amendment right to send them: "The right of freedom of speech and press . . . embraces the right to distribute literature, and necessarily protects the right to receive it." "The dissemination of ideas can accomplish nothing if otherwise willing addressees are not free to receive and consider them. It would be a barren marketplace of ideas that had only sellers and no buyers."

More importantly, the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient's meaningful exercise of his own rights of speech, press, and political freedom. Madison admonished us: "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." In sum, just as access to ideas makes it possible for citizens generally to exercise their rights of free speech and press in a meaningful manner, such access prepares students for active and effective participation in the pluralistic, often contentious society in which they will soon be adult members. Of course all First Amendment rights accorded to students must be construed "in light of the special characteristics of the school environment."  But the special characteristics of the school library make that environment especially appropriate for the recognition of the First Amendment rights of students.

A school library, no less than any other public library, is "a place dedicated to quiet, to knowledge, and to beauty."  As one District Court has well put it, in the school library "a student can literally explore the unknown, and discover areas of interest and thought not covered by the prescribed curriculum. . . . [The] student learns that a library is a place to test or expand upon ideas presented to him, in or out of the classroom."

Petitioners emphasize the inculcative function of secondary education, and argue that they must be allowed unfettered discretion to "transmit community values" through the Island Trees schools. But that sweeping claim overlooks the unique role of the school library. It appears from the record that use of the Island Trees school libraries is completely voluntary on the part of students. Their selection of books from these libraries is entirely a matter of free choice; the libraries afford them an opportunity at self-education and individual enrichment that is wholly optional. Petitioners might well defend their claim of absolute discretion in matters of curriculum by reliance upon their duty to inculcate community values. But we think that petitioners' reliance upon that duty is misplaced where, as here, they attempt to extend their claim of absolute discretion beyond the compulsory environment of the classroom, into the school library and the regime of voluntary inquiry that there holds sway.


In rejecting petitioners' claim of absolute discretion to remove books from their school libraries, we do not deny that local school   boards have a substantial legitimate role to play in the determination of school library content. We thus must turn to the question of the extent to which the First Amendment places limitations upon the discretion of petitioners to remove books from their libraries. In this inquiry we enjoy the guidance of several precedents. West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette stated: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion . . . . If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."  This doctrine has been reaffirmed in later cases involving education. For example, Keyishian v. Board of Regents noted that "the First Amendment . . . does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom."

With respect to the present case, the message of these precedents is clear. Petitioners rightly possess significant discretion to determine the content of their school libraries. But that discretion may not be exercised in a narrowly partisan or political manner. If a Democratic school board, motivated by party affiliation, ordered the removal of all books  written by or in favor of Republicans, few would doubt that the order violated the constitutional rights of the students denied access to those books. The same conclusion would surely apply if an all-white school board, motivated by racial animus, decided to remove all books authored by blacks or advocating racial equality and integration. Our Constitution does not permit the official suppression of ideas. Thus whether petitioners' removal of books from their school libraries denied respondents their First Amendment rights depends upon the motivation behind petitioners' actions. If petitioners intended by their removal decision to deny respondents access to ideas with which petitioners disagreed, and if this intent was the decisive factor in petitioners' decision, then petitioners have exercised their discretion in violation of the Constitution. To permit such intentions to control official actions would be to encourage the precise sort of officially  prescribed orthodoxy unequivocally condemned in Barnette. On the other hand, respondents implicitly concede that an unconstitutional motivation would not be demonstrated if it were shown that petitioners had decided to remove the books at issue because those books were pervasively vulgar.  And again, respondents concede that if it were demonstrated that the removal decision was based solely upon the "educational suitability" of the books in question, then their removal would be "perfectly permissible."  In other words, in respondents' view such motivations, if decisive of petitioners' actions, would not carry the danger of an official suppression of ideas, and thus would not violate respondents' First Amendment rights.

As noted earlier, nothing in our decision today affects in any way the discretion of a local school board to choose books to add to the libraries of their schools. Because we are concerned in this case with the suppression of ideas, our holding today affects only the discretion to remove books. In brief, we hold that local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."


We now turn to the remaining question presented by this case: Do the evidentiary materials that were before the District Court, when construed most favorably to respondents, raise a genuine issue of material fact whether petitioners exceeded constitutional limitations in exercising  their discretion to remove the books from the school libraries? We conclude that the materials do raise such a question, which forecloses summary judgment in favor of petitioners....

Before the District Court, respondents claimed that petitioners' decision to remove the books "was based on [their] personal values, morals and tastes."  Respondents also claimed that petitioners objected to the books in part because excerpts from them were "anti-American."  The accuracy of these claims was partially conceded by petitioners, and petitioners' own affidavits lent further support to respondents' claims. In addition, the record developed in the District Court shows that when petitioners offered their first public explanation for the removal of the books, they relied in part on the assertion that the removed books were "anti-American," and "offensive to . . . Americans in general."  Furthermore, while the Book Review Committee appointed by petitioners was instructed to make its recommendations based upon criteria that appear on their face to be permissible -- the books' "educational suitability," "good taste," "relevance," and "appropriateness to age and grade level" -- the Committee's recommendations that five of the books be retained and that only two be removed were essentially rejected by petitioners, without any statement of reasons for doing so. Finally, while petitioners originally defended their removal decision with the explanation that "these books contain obscenities, blasphemies, brutality, and perversion beyond description," one of the books, A Reader for Writers, was removed even though it contained no such language....

In sum, respondents' allegations and some of the evidentiary materials presented below do not rule out the possibility that petitioners' removal procedures were highly irregular and ad hoc -- the antithesis of those procedures that might tend to allay suspicions regarding petitioners' motivations.....

JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

While I agree with much in today's plurality opinion, and while I accept the standard laid down by the plurality to guide proceedings on remand, I write separately because I have a somewhat different perspective on the nature of the First Amendment right involved.


To my mind, this case presents a particularly complex problem because it involves two competing principles of constitutional stature. On the one hand, as the dissenting opinions demonstrate, and as we all can agree, the Court has acknowledged the importance of the public schools "in the preparation of individuals for participation as citizens, and in the preservation of the values on which our society rests."  On the other hand, as the plurality demonstrates, it is beyond dispute that schools and school boards must operate within the confines of the First Amendment. In a variety of academic settings the Court therefore has acknowledged the force of the principle that schools, like other enterprises operated by the State, may not be run in such a manner as to "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."

In my view, then, the principle involved here is both narrower and more basic than the "right to receive information" identified by the plurality. I do not suggest that the State has any affirmative obligation to provide students with information or ideas, something that may well be associated with a "right to receive."  And I do not believe, as the plurality suggests, that the right at issue here is somehow associated with the peculiar nature of the school library; if schools may be used to inculcate ideas, surely libraries may play a role in that process.  Instead, I suggest that certain forms of state discrimination between ideas are improper. In particular, our precedents command the conclusion that the State may not act to deny access to an idea simply because state officials disapprove of that idea for partisan or political reasons....

In my view, we strike a proper balance here by holding that school officials may not remove books for the purpose of restricting access to the political ideas or social perspectives discussed in them, when that action is motivated simply by  the officials' disapproval of the ideas involved. It does not seem radical to suggest that state action calculated to suppress novel ideas or concepts is fundamentally antithetical to the values of the First Amendment. At a minimum, allowing a school board to engage in such conduct hardly teaches children to respect the diversity of ideas that is fundamental to the American system....

Because I believe that the plurality has derived a standard similar to the one compelled by my analysis, I join all but Part II-A(1) of the plurality opinion.

JUSTICE WHITE, concurring in the judgment.

The District Court found that the books were removed from the school library because the school board believed them "to be, in essence, vulgar."  Both Court of Appeals judges in the majority concluded, however, that there was a material issue of fact that precluded summary judgment sought by petitioners. The unresolved factual issue, as I understand it, is the reason or reasons underlying the school board's removal of the books. I am not inclined to disagree with the Court of Appeals on such a fact-bound issue and hence concur in the judgment of affirmance. Presumably this will result in a trial and the making of a full record and findings on the critical issues.

The plurality seems compelled to go further and issue a dissertation on the extent to which the First Amendment limits the discretion of the school board to remove books from the school library. I see no necessity for doing so at this point..... We should not decide constitutional questions until it is necessary to do so, or at least until there is better reason to address them than are evident here. I therefore concur in the judgment of affirmance.


The First Amendment, as with other parts of the Constitution, must deal with new problems in a changing world. In an attempt to deal with a problem in an area traditionally left to the states, a plurality of the Court, in a lavish expansion going beyond any prior holding under the First Amendment, expresses its view that a school board's decision concerning what books are to be in the school library is subject to federal-court review. Were this to become the law, this Court would come perilously close to becoming a "super censor" of school board library decisions. Stripped to its essentials, the issue comes down to two important propositions: first, whether local schools are to be administered by elected school boards, or by federal judges and teenage pupils; and second, whether the values of morality, good taste, and relevance to education are valid reasons for school board decisions concerning the contents of a school library. In an attempt to place this case within the protection of the First Amendment, the plurality suggests a new "right" that, when shorn of the plurality's rhetoric, allows this Court to impose its own views about what books must be made available to students.....

I agree with the fundamental proposition that "students do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'"  Here, however, no restraints of any kind are placed on the students. They are free to read the books in question, which are available at public libraries and bookstores; they are free to discuss them in the classroom or elsewhere. Despite this absence of any direct external control on the students' ability to express themselves, the plurality suggests that there is a new First Amendment "entitlement" to have access to particular books in a school library....

Whatever role the government might play as a conduit of information, schools in particular ought not be made a slavish courier of the material of third parties.  If, as we have held, schools may legitimately be used as vehicles for "inculcating fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system," school authorities must have broad discretion to fulfill that obligation. Presumably all activity within a primary or secondary school involves the conveyance of information and at least an implied approval of the worth of that information. How are "fundamental values" to be inculcated except by having school boards make content-based decisions about the appropriateness of retaining materials in the school library and curriculum. In order to fulfill its function, an elected school board must express its views on the subjects which are taught to its students. In doing so those elected officials express the views of their community; they may err, of course, and the voters may remove them. It is a startling erosion of the very idea of democratic government to have this Court arrogate to itself the power the plurality asserts today....

Through use of bits and pieces of prior opinions unrelated to the issue of this case, the plurality demeans our function of constitutional adjudication. Today the plurality suggests that the Constitution distinguishes between school libraries and school classrooms, between removing unwanted books and acquiring books. Even more extreme, the plurality concludes that the Constitution requires school boards to justify to its teenage pupils the decision to remove a particular book from a school library. I categorically reject this notion that the Constitution dictates that judges, rather than parents, teachers, and local school boards, must determine how the standards of morality and vulgarity are to be treated in the classroom.

JUSTICE POWELL, dissenting.

The plurality opinion today rejects a basic concept of public school education in our country: that the States and locally elected school boards should have the responsibility for determining the educational policy of the public schools. After today's decision any junior high school student, by instituting a suit against a school board or teacher, may invite a judge to overrule an educational  decision by the official body designated by the people to operate the schools....

I therefore view today's decision with genuine dismay. Whatever the final outcome of this suit and suits like it, the resolution of educational policy decisions through litigation, and the exposure of school board members to liability for such decisions, can be expected to corrode the school board's authority and effectiveness. As is evident from the generality of the plurality's "standard" for judicial review, the decision as to the educational worth of a book is a highly subjective one. Judges rarely are as competent as school authorities to make this decision; nor are judges responsive to the parents and people of the school district....

The new constitutional right, announced by the plurality, is described as a "right to receive ideas" in a school. As the dissenting opinions of THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE REHNQUIST so powerfully demonstrate, however, this newfound right finds no support in the First Amendment precedents of this Court. And even apart from the inappropriateness of judicial oversight of educational policy, the new constitutional right is framed in terms that approach a meaningless generalization. It affords little guidance to courts, if they -- as the plurality now authorizes them -- are to oversee the inculcation of ideas. The plurality does announce the following standard: A school board's "discretion may not be exercised in a narrowly partisan or political manner." But this is a standardless standard that affords no more than subjective guidance to school boards, their counsel, and to courts that now will be required to decide whether a particular decision was made in a "narrowly partisan or political manner." Even the "chancellor's foot" standard in ancient equity jurisdiction was never this fuzzy....

In different contexts and in different times, the destruction of written materials has been the symbol of despotism and intolerance. But the removal of nine vulgar or racist books from a high school library by a concerned local school board does not raise this specter. For me, today's decision symbolizes a debilitating encroachment upon the institutions of a free people.

Attached as an Appendix hereto is Judge Mansfield's summary of excerpts from the books at issue in this case.


"The excerpts which led the Board to look into the educational suitability of the books in question are set out (with minor corrections after comparison with the text of the books themselves) below. The pagination and the underlinings are retained from the original report used by the board. In newer editions of some of the books, the quotes appear at different pages.

"1) SOUL ON ICE by Eldridge Cleaver


157-158 '. . . There are white men who will pay you to fuck their wives. They approach you and say, "How would you like to fuck a white woman?" "What is this?" you ask. "On the up-and-up," he assures you. "It's all right. She's my wife. She needs black rod, is all. She has to have it. It's like a medicine or drug to her. She has to have it. I'll pay you. It's all on the level, no trick involved. Interested?" You go with him and he drives you to their home. The three of you go into the bedroom. There is a certain type who will leave you and his wife alone and tell you to pile her real good. After it is all over, he will pay you and drive you to wherever you want to go. Then there are some who like to peep at you through a keyhole and watch you have his woman, or peep at you through a window, or lie under the bed and listen to the creaking of the bed as you work out. There is another type who likes to masturbate while he stands beside the bed and watches you pile her. There is the type who likes to eat his woman up after you get through piling her. And there is the type who only wants you to pile her for a little while, just long enough to thaw her out and kick her motor over and arouse her to heat, then he wants you to jump off real quick and he will jump onto her and together they can make it from there by themselves.'



10 'Hell, no! Fuck the society.'

64-65 'The hell with the junkie, the wino, the capitalist, the welfare checks, the world . . . yeah, and fuck you too!'

75-76 'They can have back the spread and curtains, I'm too old for them fuckin bunnies anyway.'

"3) THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud


52 'What do you think goes on in the wagon at night: Are the drivers on their knees fucking their mothers?'

90 'Fuck yourself, said the blinker, etc.'

92 'Who else would do anything like that but a mother-fucking Zhid?'

146 'No more noise out of you or I'll shoot your Jew cock off.'

189 'Also there's a lot of fucking in the Old Testament, so how is that religious?'

192 'You better go fuck yourself, Bok, said Kogin, I'm onto your Jew tricks.'

215 'Ding-dong giddyap. A Jew's cock's in the devil's hock.'

216 'You cocksucker Zhid, I ought make you lick it up off the floor.'

"4) GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous


31 'I wonder if sex without acid could be so exciting, so wonderful, so indescribable. I always thought it just took a minute, or that it would be like dogs mating.'

47 'Chris and I walked into Richie and Ted's apartment to find the bastards stoned and making love to each other . . . low class queer.'

81 'shitty, goddamned, pissing, ass, goddamned beJesus, screwing life's, ass, shit. Doris was ten and had humped with who knows how many men in between . . . her current stepfather started having sex with her but good . . . sonofabitch balling her'

83 'but now when I face a girl its like facing a boy. I get all excited and turned on. I want to screw with the girl. . . .'

84 'I'd rather screw with a guy . . . sometimes I want one of the girls to kiss me. I want her to touch me, to have her sleep under me.'

84 'Another day, another blow job . . . If I don't give Big Ass a blow he'll cut off my supply . . . and LittleJacon is yelling, "Mama, Daddy can't come now. He's humping Carla."

85 'Shit, goddamn, goddamn prick, son-of-a-bitch, ass, pissed, bastard, goddamn, bullshit

94 'I hope you have a nice orgasm with your dog tonight.'

110 'You fucking Miss Polly pure

117 'Then he said that all I needed was a good fuck.'

146 'It might be great because I'm practically a virgin in the sense that I've never had sex except when I've been stoned. . . .'

"5) SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


29 'Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker.' The last word was still a novelty in the speech of white people in 1944.

It was fresh and astonishing to Billy, who had never fucked anybody . . .'

32 'You stake a guy out on an anthill in the desert -- see? He's facing upward, and you put honey all over his balls and pecker, and you cut off his eyelids so he has to stare at the sun till he dies.'

34 'He had a prophylactic kit containing two tough condoms 'For the prevention of disease only!' . . . He had a dirty picture of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a shetland pony.'

94 & 95 'But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected . . . The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ who didn't look like much, was actually the son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought . . . Oh boy -- they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch this time! And that thought had a brother: There are right people to lynch. People not well connected . . . . The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really WAS a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections then he had . . . . So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn't possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought . . . since the new Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was. And then just before the nobody died . . . . The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son . . . God said this: From this moment on, He will punish horribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections.'

99 'They told him that there could be no Earthling babies without male homosexuals. There could be babies without female homosexuals.'

120 'Why don't you go fuck yourself? Don't think I haven't tried . . . he was going to have revenge, and that revenge was sweet . . . It's the sweetest thing there is, said Lazzaro. People fuck with me, he said, and Jesus Christ are they ever fucking sorry.'

122 'And he'll pull out a gun and shoot his pecker off. The stranger'll let him think a couple of seconds about who Paul Lazzaro is and what life's gonna be like without a pecker. Then he'll shoot him once in the guts and walk away. . . . He died on account of this silly cocksucker here. So I promised him I'd have this silly cocksucker shot after the war.'

134 'In my prison cell I sit . . . With my britches full of shit, And my balls are bouncing gently on the floor. And I see the bloody snag when she bit me in the bag . . . Oh, I'll never fuck a Polack any more.'

173 'And the peckers of the young men would still be semierect, and their muscles would be bulging like cannonballs.'

175 'They didn't have hard-ons . . . Everybody else did.'

177 'The magazine, which was published for lonesome men to jerk off to.'

178 'and one critic said. . . . 'To describe blow-jobs artistically."



176 'like bat's shit and camel piss,'

228 'that no-count bitch of a daughter of yours is up there up North making a whore of herself.'

237 'they made her get out and stand in front of the headlights of the car and pull down her pants and raise her dress -- they said that was the only way they could be sure. And you can imagine what they said and what they did -- .'

303 'You need some pussy. Come on, let's go up to the whore house on the hill.'

'Oh, these bastards, these bastards, this God damned Army and the bastards in it. The sons of bitches!'

436 'he produced a brown rag doll, looked at her again, then grabbed the doll by its legs and tore it part way up the middle. Then he jammed his finger into the rip between the doll's legs. The other men laughed. . . .'

444 'The pimps, hustlers, lesbians, and others trying to misuse me.'

462 'But she had straight firm legs and her breasts were small and upright. No doubt if she'd had children her breasts would be hanging like little empty purses.'

464 'She first became aware of the warm tense nipples on her breasts. Her hands went up gently to clam them.' 'In profile, his penis hung like a stout tassle. She could even tell that he was circumcised.'

406 'Cadillac Bill was busy following Luheaster around, rubbing her stomach and saying, "Magic Stomach, Magic Stomach, bring me a little baby cadillac."' 'One of the girls went upstairs with Red Top and stayed for about forty-five minutes.'

"7) BLACK BOY by Richard Wright


70-71 'We black children -- seven or eight or nine years of age -- used to run to the Jew's store and shout:

. . . Bloody Christ Killers

Never trust a Jew

Bloody Christ Killers

What won't a Jew do . . .

Red, white and blue

Your pa was a Jew

Your ma a dirty dago

What the hell is you?'

265 'Crush that nigger's nuts, nigger!' 'Hit that nigger!'

'Aw, fight, you goddam niggers!' 'Sock 'im, in his f-k-g-piece!' 'Make 'im bleed!'

"8) LAUGHING BOY by Oliver LaFarge


38 'I'll tell you, she is all bad; for two bits she will do the worst thing.'

48-9 'I was frightened when he wanted me to lie with him, but he made me feel all right. He knew all about how to make women forget themselves, that man.'

"9) THE NAKED APE by Desmond Morris


73-74 'Also, the frontal approach provides the maximum possibility for stimulation of the female's clitoris during the pelvic thrusting of the male. It is true that it will be passively, stimulated by the pulling effect of the male's thrusts, regardless of his body position in relation to the female, but in a face-to-face mating there will in addition be the direct rhythmic pressure of the male's pubic region on to the clitoral area, and this will considerably heighten the stimulation . . .' 'So it seems plausible to consider that face-to-face copulation is basic to our species. There are, of course, a number of variations that do not eliminate the frontal element: male above, female above, side by side, squatting, standing, and so on, but the most efficient and commonly used one is with both partners horizontal, the male above the female. . . .'

80 '. . . This broadening of the penis results in the female's external genitals being subjected to much more pulling and pushing during the performance of pelvic thrusts. With each inward thrust of the penis, the clitoral region is pulled downwards and then with each withdrawal, it moves up again. Add to this the rhythmic pressure being exerted on the clitoris region by the pubic region of the frontally copulating male, and you have a repeated massaging of the clitoris that -- were she a male -- would virtually be masturbatory.'

94-99 '. . . If either males or females cannot for some reason obtain sexual access to their opposite numbers, they will find sexual outlets in other ways. They may use other members of their own sex, or they may even use members of other species, or they may masturbate. . . .'


Addressing only those aspects of the constitutional question which must be decided to determine whether or not the District Court was correct in granting summary judgment, I conclude that it was. I agree fully with the views expressed by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, and concur in his opinion. I disagree with JUSTICE BRENNAN's opinion because it is largely hypothetical in character, failing to take account of the facts as admitted by the parties pursuant to local rules of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and because it is analytically unsound and internally inconsistent....

JUSTICE BRENNAN would hold that the First Amendment gives high school and junior high school students a "right to receive ideas" in the school. Ante, at 867. This right is a curious entitlement. It exists only in the library of the school, and only if the idea previously has been acquired by the school in book form. It provides no protection against a school board's decision not to acquire a particular book, even though that decision denies access to ideas as fully as removal of the book from the library, and it prohibits removal of previously acquired books only if the remover "[dislikes] the ideas contained in those books," even though removal for any other reason also denies the students access to the books.

But it is not the limitations which JUSTICE BRENNAN places on the right with which I disagree; they simply demonstrate his discomfort with the new doctrine which he fashions out of whole cloth. It is the very existence of a right to receive information, in the junior high school and high school setting, which I find wholly unsupported by our past decisions and inconsistent with the necessarily selective process of elementary and secondary education....

JUSTICE O'CONNOR, dissenting.

If the school board can set the curriculum, select teachers, and determine initially what books to purchase for the school library, it surely can decide which books to discontinue or remove from the school library so long as it does not also interfere with the right of students to read the material and to discuss it. As JUSTICE REHNQUIST persuasively argues, the plurality's analysis overlooks the fact that in this case the government is acting in its special role as educator.

I do not personally agree with the Board's action with respect to some of the books in question here, but it is not the function of the courts to make the decisions that have been properly relegated to the elected members of school boards. It is the school board that must determine educational suitability, and it has done so in this case. I therefore join THE CHIEF JUSTICE's dissent.

Exploring Constitutional Conflicts