Libraries » Federal & State Law

Federal & State Law

First Amendment

The United States Supreme Court has determined that students have a First Amendment right when it comes to removal of books from the shelves of a school library.

The school district may not remove materials from a library for the purpose of denying students access to ideas with which the district disagrees. The school district may remove materials because, per District policy, they are pervasively vulgar or based solely upon the educational suitability of the books in question.


The major criterion for the final decision on challenged library material is the appropriateness of the resource for its intended educational use. The plurality opinion in Board of Education v. Pico [see EF(LEGAL)] uses the standard that no challenged instructional resource shall be removed solely because of the ideas expressed therein. The opinion allows the removal of materials because they are pervasively vulgar or based upon the lack of educational suitability of the library material. Further, making a determination of appropriateness shall include a review of and compliance with 47 U.S.C. 254(h)(5) and Penal Code 43.24(a)(2) and (b).