Free Speech on the Docket

Minarcini v. Strongsville City School District
541 F.2d 577 (6th Cir, 1976)

This case falls into the legal category of:

Read ACLU Volunteer Attorney Mike Honohan’s recollections about the case.

Case Dates:
Saturday, 19 August, 1972 - Monday, 30 August, 1976
Facts:

In 1972, the Strongsville City School District refused to approve faculty recommendations for using Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You Mr. Rosewater as textbooks. Further, they ordered that Catch 22, along with Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, be removed from the school library.

Five high school students, including Susan Minarcini, represented by ACLU volunteer attorneys Michael Honohan and Howard Besser, filed a lawsuit against the school board. The ACLU argued that the students’ First Amendment right to receive information, as well as teachers’ right to share information, had been violated. The lawsuit also asserted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment had been violated due to the manner in which the books were removed from the school library.

Upon appeal, the court upheld the school board’s right to reject the books as part of the curriculum, but found the removal of the books from the library to be unconstitutional, referring to the library as “a storehouse of knowledge.”

Read the decision.