This past Saturday, September 25th, marked the beginning of Banned Books Week. Established in 1982, Banned Books Week highlights attempts to remove books from library and store shelves.
Being a law library, we’re interested in Banned Books Week as librarians, and also because there happens to be a lot of case law resulting from efforts to ban books. Removing books from school libraries was the primary focus of Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982). There are also cases about the suppression of specific books, including James Joyce’s Ulysses, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, and William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.
The Law Library has a number of books on the First Amendment and book banning, including:
120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature, by Nicholas J. Karolides, Margaret Bald, & Dawn B. Sova
Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, by Anthony Lewis
Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius, by Edward De Grazia
Ulysses in Court: The Litigation Surrounding the First Publication of James Joyce’s Novel in the United States, by Irving Younger & James W. McElhaney