WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has refused to get involved in a dispute in Miami between school officials and civil libertarians over a book about Cuba that depicts smiling children in communist uniforms but avoids mention of problems in the country.
The justices today turned away an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida that sought to prevent Miami officials from removing the book Vamos a Cuba and its English-language version, A Visit to Cuba, from library shelves.
The Miami-Dade County School District wants to ban the book, intended for children ages 5 to 8, because it does not mention Cuba's alleged lack of civil liberties, political indoctrination of public school children, food rationing and forced child labor. Board members voted to remove the book after a parent who spent time as a political prisoner in Cuba complained.
A federal judge in Miami ruled that the board should add books of different perspectives instead of removing offending titles. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said in its ruling last February that the district wouldn't be infringing free speech by removing the book because it presents an inaccurate view of life in Cuba.
The 2001 book by Alta Schreier contains images of smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and celebrating the country's 1959 revolution. In discussing daily life, the book says children work, study and play the same way children in other countries do.
The case is ACLU v. Miami-Dade County School Board, 08-1564.