Roughly 500 members of the literary community published a letter in which they articulated their desire for Penguin Random House to desist from publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book.
Barrett’s book reportedly mentions “how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule,” The Guardian reported.
The signatories begin their letter by insisting that they “care deeply about freedom of speech” but declare that it is “imperative” that the publishers “uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care.”
Acknowledging that “harm is done to a democracy not only in the form of censorship,” the authors of the letter then assert that publishing Barrett’s book would constitute an “assault on inalienable human rights.”
Of course, the “inalienable human rights” the signatories cite are centered on the right to abortion. They aver that Barrett, by repealing Roe v. Wade in conjunction with Justices Alito, Roberts, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Gorsuch was “dismantling protections for the human rights to privacy, self-determination, and bodily autonomy along with the federal right to an abortion in the United States.”
The signatories then buttress their argument by referencing “international human rights organizations” that condemned the Supreme Court for striking down Roe v. Wade. They proclaim that Barrett is “inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans while appropriating the rhetoric of even-handedness.”
“This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship,” the signatories claim. “Many of us work daily with books we find disagreeable to our personal politics. Rather, this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits.”
They conclude, “We the undersigned have made the decision to stand by our duty of care while upholding freedom of speech. We cannot stand idly by while our industry misuses free speech to destroy our rights.”
In January 2021, Simon & Schuster dumped the publishing of Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley’s new book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” after Hawley’s actions on January 6.
The conservative publishing house Regnery then decided it would publish Hawley’s book.
BREAKING: @HawleyMO signs with Regnery after Simon & Schuster cancels book.
— Regnery Publishing (@Regnery) January 18, 2021
“Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line. The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job,” Hawley said in a Jan. 6 message.
Simon & Schuster dropped Hawley the next day.
“After witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Simon & Schuster has decided to cancel publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book,” the publisher said.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” it continued. “As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
Tim Pearce contributed to this report.