Cover: Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights, from Harvard University PressCover: Lessons in Censorship in HARDCOVER

Lessons in Censorship

How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights

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Product Details


$46.50 • £37.95 • €42.00

ISBN 9780674057746

Publication Date: 10/19/2015


368 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 line illustration, 1 map


Ross…makes a compelling case in Lessons in Censorship for the importance of according students free speech not only as a constitutional right, but also as a vital democratic practice.—Joan Wallach Scott, The Nation

It is a revealing book about judicially sanctioned censorship… Well-argued and well-researched… Turn the pages of Lessons in Censorship and you will discover what it means for students to think freely and how courts have fashioned baseless arguments designed to squelch such thinking… Lessons in Censorship is a book that should be read and discussed by school officials at all levels of education. It is a work that should be pored over by school board officials and lawyers who represent school districts and college campuses. And its message should carry over into the memoranda and briefs that lawyers file to inform judges.—Ronald K. L. Collins, Concurring Opinions

[Ross] provides a convincing critique of the state of the law, an urgent warning about what students experience in school, and concrete suggestions for protecting student speech… Her book is an important reminder that censorship of students begins long before they get to college.—David Moshman, The Huffington Post

Lessons in Censorship is not only a comprehensive and colorfully written treatment of the Court’s student-speech jurisprudence, but it also reminds us that we must remain vigilant in our protection of free speech in the classroom and the courtroom. After bringing clarity to the Court’s often opaque student-speech decisions in the wake of Tinker, Ross demonstrates that modern free speech controversies go beyond the schoolhouse gate and reflect the heated battles being waged in the culture wars… The ambitious agenda of Lessons in Censorship is to make sense of student-speech controversies in our schools-ranging from online bullying, to adolescent humor, to unpopular political speech-and explain the constitutional law that governs student speech… Ross accomplishes the delicate task of writing for a sophisticated legal audience while at the same time making her prose and analysis accessible to parents, teachers, and school administrators… Ross manages to maintain the attention of both audiences with her clear and engaging voice.—William S. Koski, Texas Law Review

In a new era of heightened demands for trigger warnings on collegiate syllabi and in campus ‘safe spaces’ about potentially disturbing speech, the book could not be more timely.—S. B. Lichtman, Choice

We teach our children to celebrate freedom of speech but what freedom do they have when their schools too often punish them for exercising it? Catherine Ross’s powerful and lucid exposé of the increasingly routine censorship of student speech is well worth our attention and concern.—Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, LLP

A magnificent book. Catherine Ross has given us a beautifully written and original contribution to our understanding of the nexus of constitutional law, lower courts, and everyday life in our public schools. She persuasively demonstrates that schools and judges too often teach ‘lessons in censorship’ that threaten the First Amendment and our vital culture of democracy.—Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Every student, parent, teacher, and principal should read—and heed—the lessons about the First Amendment rights of students in this terrific and timely book.—Glenn Altschuler, Cornell University

An extraordinary book. Ross offers the best account I have read about why we have free speech and why we value it so much—insightful and accessible. Beyond explaining what students can say, and how they can say it, and how limits have developed over the last ninety years, Lessons in Censorship powerfully argues that speech rights in public school are essential to the health of democratic governance—every concerned citizen must read this book.—Gene Policinski, author of the weekly column Inside the First Amendment

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