April 12, 2022
AAP Joins Amicus Brief in Missouri State Conference of The National Association for The Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP) v. Wentzville R-IV School District
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has joined the American Booksellers for Free Expression, the Authors Guild, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in submitting an amicus brief in support of the NAACP’s motion for a preliminary injunction in a case challenging the removal of books from school libraries in the Wentzville School District in Missouri. The banned books include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; Heavy by Kiese Laymon; Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari, a comedian, and Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero; Fun Home: A Family TragiComic by Alison Bechdel; Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell; All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson; and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison.
The brief explains that the “Supreme Court has ruled in many contexts that the First Amendment protects minors as well as adults, and that minors have a constitutional right to speak and to receive the information and ideas necessary for their intellectual development and their participation as citizens in a democracy, including information about reproduction and sexuality.” The brief makes the case that the banned books cited are First Amendment-protected, and do not meet any of the Supreme Court’s requirements for finding materials constitutionally unprotected as to minors, but rather “have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors, as evidenced by the dozens of awards and plaudits” they’ve received.
“Nothing has been put forward by the School Board, nor do [AAP and the other amici] believe there can be anything, to demonstrate that taken as a whole, any of the Banned Books appeal to the prurient interests of minors; . . . are patently offensive to the adult community as to what is suitable for minors; . . .[or] lack serious value.” Furthermore, in “removing the Banned Books, the [School] Board failed to consider the vale of the Banned Books to older minors and their constitutional rights.”
The School Board’s action to remove these First Amendment-protected books from school libraries “is unconstitutional and should be enjoined. Any such restriction, even for a limited period, is unconstitutional.”
Read the full brief here.