Thank you for reading The Marble Palace Blog, which I hope will inform and surprise you about the Supreme Court of the United States. My name is Tony Mauro. I’ve covered the Supreme Court since 1979 and for ALM since 2000. I semiretired in 2019, but I am still fascinated by the high court. I’ll welcome any tips or suggestions for topics to write about. You can reach me at [email protected]
On April 7, Rep. Jamie Raskin presided over a House of Representatives hearing on “Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” The subject of the day was: “Free Speech Under Attack: Book Bans and Academic Censorship.”
In an opening statement Raskin, who was a constitutional scholar before becoming a congressman, mentioned several Supreme Court precedents that bolster the First Amendment rights of students. He then pivoted to his own startling experience about the banning of books.
“I actually wrote a book, ‘We the Students,’ which is sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society and analyzes the constitutional freedoms of students, families, and teachers in public schools,” Raskin said. Published in the year 2000 and updated since then, the book “is actually one of several hundred books being aggressively targeted for removal from public schools in Texas,” Raskin revealed. “I am certain that it must be the first book ever sponsored by the Supreme Court’s own historical society which is now being slated for censorship.”
Raskin was referring to Texas Rep. Matt Krause, who included Raskin’s book along with 850 other books targeted for removal in Texas public schools. Krause did not return a request to explain why Raskin’s book was on the list.
Danika Ellis, a writer at Book Riot, a website that tracks current book censorship, referred to Raskin’s book and others that discuss students’ rights and said, “Perhaps the most disturbing trend I saw in this [Texas] list is the challenging of books that teach students their rights. Of all the things to teach in school or for kids to have access to, this is one of the most important.”
The historical society co-sponsored the launch of Raskin’s book in 2000, when Raskin was a professor at American University Washington College of Law. Raskin has updated the book several times since then.
James Duff, executive director of the society, declined to comment about the Texas scenario, but stated, “The Society sponsored the publication of ‘We the Students’ by Rep. Jamie Raskin in 2000. We sell the most recent edition in the Society’s Gift Shop.”
The society’s online blurb about “We the Students”: “This great book covers Supreme Court cases ‘for and about the students.’ … Written especially for high school students and libraries, this book has something in it for all ages.”