California Threatens Legal Action Against Any School District That Bans Books
Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond have issued a warning to any school districts considering red state-style book bans.
The trio sent a joint letter to all county and district superintendents, as well as charter school administrators last week. It cautions that removal or prohibition of instructional materials from classrooms or libraries may violate the Constitution and that doing so could prompt a review and request for additional information from the Attorney General’s Office.
“As the Supreme Court stated over 50 years ago: ‘It can hardly be argued that . . . students . . . shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ Freedom of speech includes the right to receive information and ideas, including those that are controversial, unpopular, or offensive to some,” the letter reads.
“…While local educational agencies ‘have broad discretion in the management of school affairs,’ this discretion ‘must be exercised in a manner that comports with the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment.’ Therefore, while a local educational agency or administrator may remove books and other materials from a school library because of their educational suitability, pervasive vulgarity or profanity, or factual inaccuracies, it ‘may not remove books from school library shelves simply because [officials] dislike the ideas contained in those books…’”
As the letter notes, nearly 1,500 books were banned in America during the 2022-2023 school year alone. The bans are part of a conservative backlash against teachings on race, sex and gender identity in schools.