René Nuñez Political Action Caucus Seeks to Join as Amicus filers

The René Nuñez Political Action Caucus of NACCS is informing the membership that we have initiated contact with PEN America to seek to join as Amicus filers, or “Friend of the Court,” in their lawsuit against recent book banning in Florida.  Our Caucus sent a letter to PEN America, attached as “PEN America Amicus NACCS Letter,” dated December 22, 2023.  We are doing so with the approval of the NACCS Board.  PEN America is recognized as a significant national organization championing freedom of expression.  As they state, “PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.” (  

Our René Nuñez Political Action Caucus considers the outbreak of recent and current book bans across the country as an ominous threat against Chicana/o Studies and the publications of our academic discipline, from Kindergarten through higher education.  In our research about such book bans, especially in school districts, it became clear to us that Chicana/o Studies publications are a major target of such bans.  Among their other manifestations, we see such book bans as a violation of our First Amendment right to “freedom of speech” and our Fourteenth Amendment right to “equal protection” and “due process,” interpretations we share with PEN America.

PEN America, along with the publisher Penguin Random House, filed a lawsuit against book banning, specifically in Florida, which we seek to join as Amicus filers.  As we stated in our letter of interest to PEN America, “We applaud the current lawsuit, filed May 17, 2023, by PEN America Center and Random House, et. al., against Florida’s Escambia County School District and the Escambia County School Board due to their recent and ongoing book banning campaign and actions” (See “Lawsuit in Florida Case No. 3:23-cv-10385”).  Section “H” of that lawsuit states, against the Escambia School District and its Board, “Defendants Disproportionately Target Books by Minority and LGBTQ Authors or Books Addressing Themes Involving Race and LGBTQ Identity.”  For example, paragraph 137 states, “Of the 10 Removed Books by the School Board, 6 have authors who are non-white and/or identify as LGBTQ, while 9 address themes relating to race or LGBTQ identity, or feature prominent non-white and/or LGBTQ characters.”  Of the larger list of targeted books, as paragraph 197 notes, “approximately 40% have authors who are non-white and/or identify as LGBTQ, while approximately 60% address themes relating to race or LGBTQ identity” (pages 45-46).   

As such book banning has spread, our Caucus can project the damage such prohibitions will cause to Chicana/o Studies and other Ethnic Studies.  For example, as we addressed in our outreach letter to PEN America, in 2019, the Colorado Legislature passed the bill HB19-1192, requiring Multicultural Studies or Ethnic Studies in K-12, which requires both cultural infusion and a graduation requirement class in the subjects. The preamble paragraph for HB19-1192, “Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government,” reads in part:

Concerning the inclusion of matters relating to American minorities in the teaching of social contributions in civil government in public schools, and… to include the history, culture, and social contributions of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals within these minority groups… and the intersectionality of significant social and cultural features within these communities (Colorado HB19-1192). 

The decisions by Florida’s Escambia County School District and its School Board to ban books which “have been focused disproportionately on minority and LGBTQ authors and/or books that pursue themes related to minority or LGBTQ identity” would essentially lead to banning the entirety of the Colorado State Legislature’s HB19-1192 legislative bill, along with similar bills in additional states. 

NACCS has a history of joining significant lawsuits to protect our community and our Chicana/o Studies discipline.  As our attached letter to PEN America explains in some detail, NACCS joined as Amicus filer against Colorado’s 1992 anti-GLB rights (not noted as GLBTQIA at the time) Amendment 2, which was successfully defeated at the U.S. Supreme Court. 

NACCS also successfully joined as amici in a 2012 case in Arizona, where in 2007 the Tucson Unified School District established a Mexican-American Studies program, noting that “ethnic studies programs are designed to be culturally relevant—to help students see themselves in the curriculum and make them see why education is important for them” (JSTOR Daily, Livia Gershon, July 22, 2017).  However, by 2010, “State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne authored a ban on ethnic studies, HB 2281, following a controversy over the Chicano, or Mexican-American, studies program in the Tucson public schools.”  This bill, House Bill 2281, was approved by the Arizona State Legislature in 2010 and signed by Governor Jan Brewer.  It terminated the entire program of Mexican-American Studies in the Tucson School District, thereby also banning the books that had been at the core of the curriculum for the program.  

As a result of the main lawsuit against Arizona’s HB 2281 that banned the Mexican-American Studies program, the state statute was found to be illegal because it violated the students’ U.S. Constitutional rights, with the ban running from 2010-2017: “’An Arizona law banning ethnic studies violated students’ constitutional rights,’ [according to] a federal judge….   ‘Both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus’….” (NPR, “Federal Judge Finds Racism Behind Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies,” August 22, 2017). 

The René Nuñez Political Action Caucus will keep the NACCS Membership apprised of any possible further action.  Please note that as supporting documents, we are attaching below our outreach letter to PEN America as well as a NACCS Press Release and a NACCS Declaration, which we have also provided to PEN America.   


Dr. Raoul Contreras, Chair, René Núñez Political Action Caucus, NACCS

Dr. Reynaldo Macias, Executive Committee, René Núñez Political Action Caucus

Dr. Luis Torres, Executive Committee, René Núñez Political Action Caucus

Dr. Manuel Hernandez, Executive Committee, René Núñez Political Action Caucus

Dr. Karleen Pendleton Jimenez, Executive Committee, René Núñez Political Action Caucus

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