Northern Justice Project, ACLU of Alaska file preliminary injunction to put 56 removed books back on Mat-Su school library shelves 

Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) – The Northern Justice Project (NJP), LLC, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to return 56 book titles to Mat-Su Borough School District (MSBSD) library shelves. The District initially removed the book titles in April 2023, including The Bluest Eye, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Kite Runner, because the titles contained ideas that it disagreed with.  

The preliminary injunction would return the 56 book titles to the shelves in school district libraries where they were previously removed and pause the removal of any other books pending a further order from the court. 

“The District removed fifty-six books from all school libraries because of the books’ LGBTQ themes or protagonists of color that a few in the community disagree with,” Savannah Fletcher, Attorney for Northern Justice Project said. “This is censorship plain and simple, and it violates the First Amendment. Until the courts can review the merits of the case, these books must be returned to school shelves.” 

“Restricting access to ideas is harmful to all students, and banning these specific books is especially critical to the individuals pursuing this lawsuit. These students range from middle school to high school, range in their racial backgrounds, and some identify as LGBTQIA2S+ individuals,” Ruth Botstein, Legal Director for the ACLU of Alaska said. “This representation matters to these students, and access and exposure to new ideas are crucial for their growth and development.  The harm to the students goes beyond simply checking out a library book. There is nothing that can compensate for the lost opportunity to explore an idea, to read a book that might help a student navigate the world.” 

In November 2023, NJP and the ACLU of Alaska filed a lawsuit representing eight plaintiffs, including six MSBSD parents on behalf of their minor children and two MSBSD students over the age of 18 who claim that the book removal violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution to free speech, press, and political expression. A full list of the removed book titles can be found here. 

NJP and the ACLU of Alaska expect the judge to set a hearing for the motion for preliminary injunction in the near future and for the process to move quickly. No hearing date has been set at this time.