Senate Democrats are trying to hold up the judicial confirmation of a man who urged three years ago that such books as "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "A Doll's House" be barred from Alabama schools.
Eric G. Bruggink, nominated for the U.S. Court of Claims, made the recommendations while serving on the Alabama state textbook selection committee. He endorsed a 1982 minority report saying that these and other books should not be allowed in public schools.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, asked for a 30-day "hold" on the nomination of Bruggink, now director of appeals at the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Bruggink said in a letter to Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) that his actions were "in no way censorship . . . . The fact that a book may not be chosen for required reading, subsidized by public funds, does not constitute censorship."
Bruggink said a few books reviewed "had, in my view, an inappropriately heavy and continuous emphasis on negative themes. They repeatedly dwelled upon extreme violence, on hatred between races and the sexes, the occult, and hostility in family relationships."
In the 1982 report signed by Bruggink, the minority members said they objected to one section of "The Diary of Anne Frank" because it is "most depressing." They criticized Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" for representing "radical feminism."
The minority members said that F. Scott Fitzgerald "undermined . . . parental authority" in his short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." "The teen-ager doesn't ask her mother's permission, she tells her mother that modern women have to have freedom," the report said.
The report criticized another book for making a "pitch" for such horror movies as "The Exorcist," "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Omen," saying: "Many of these movies are satanic."
Bruggink and his colleagues also cited works by James Baldwin, Thomas Wolfe and Wallace Stevens and an essay by Marian Anderson that they said was "bitter about racial prejudice."
Two liberal lobbying groups had urged Biden to delay the nomination. People for the American Way said Bruggink's action was "evidence of an insensitivity to the First Amendment," and the Alliance for Justice said it called into question his "judgment, open-mindedness and freedom from bias."