95 Law Libr. J. 175 (2003)
The Right to Receive Information

handle is hein.journals/llj95 and id is 177 raw text is: The Right to Receive Information*

Susan Nevelow Mart**
Ms. Mart examines the legal evolution of the right to receive information, par-
ticularly focusing on its application to libraries, beginning with the Supreme
Court holding in Board of Education v. Pico, and followed by cases that have
considered the meaning of Pico in a variety of library-related contexts.
11 Although the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to free
speech, if you can't get access to the speech, the value of the guarantee diminishes.
To address the issue of access, the United States Supreme Court developed the the-
ory in Martin v. Struthers' that there is a constitutional right to receive informa-
tion. Although this case was about door-to-door pamphleteers, many of the major
battles over the right to receive information have arisen in the library context.
Libraries have been the setting for legal battles about student access to books,
removal or retention of offensive material, regulation of patron behavior, and
limitations on public access to the Internet. The first Supreme Court case to con-
sider the right to receive information in a library setting was Board of Education
v. Pico.2
T2 The right to receive information has evolved from its early place as a nec-
essary corollary to the right of free speech3 or as a peripheral or penumbral right4
without which the primary right would be less secure.' That evolution was severely
impacted by Pico. When the Supreme Court was asked to balance the right to
receive information in school libraries against the discretion of local school boards
to direct the school's daily operations, the Justices were unable to reach any con-
sensus. The sharply divided opinion left a fractured and incoherent jurisprudence.
* © Susan Nevelow Mart, 2003.
** Reference Librarian, University of California, Hastings College of Law Library, San Francisco,
California.
1.  319 U.S. 141, 143 (1943).
2. 457 U.S. 853 (1982).
3. Martin, 319 U.S. at 143; Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 515, 534 (1944).
4. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 482, 483 (1964).
5. The development of corollary rights is perhaps an outgrowth of the early common law rules of con-
struction, codified in some states as maxims of jurisprudence. See, e.g., CAL. CiV. CODE § 3522 (West
1997) (One who grants a thing is presumed to grant also whatever is essential to its use.). Maxims
of jurisprudence and rules of statutory construction are not inapplicable when wrestling with consti-
tutional meaning. See Raoul Berger, Government by Judiciary: Judge Gibbons' Argument Ad
Hominem, 59 B.U. L. REv. 783, 804-06 (1979) (citing eminent jurists and commentators who believe
such canons to be applicable to constitutional interpretation).

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