Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Law That Calls For Arrest Of Librarians Who Loan Banned Books
U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks temporarily blocked Arkansas from enforcing a law that would have allowed criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing “harmful” materials to minors.
The law also would have created a new process to challenge library materials and request that they be relocated to adult sections. The measure was signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders earlier this year and was set to take effect on August 1.
A coalition that included the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock filed a lawsuit against the bill, saying that fear of prosecution could prompt librarians and booksellers to stop carrying titles that may spark controversy.
Executive director of Central Arkansas Library System Nate Coulter said in a statement that Brooks’ decision recognized the law as censorship, a violation of the Constitution, which would wrongly malign librarians.
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The ruling came as lawmakers in a number of red states are trying to pass legislation that makes it easier to ban certain reading materials in public libraries and schools. The number of attempts to restrict book access across the country last year was the height in the 20 years that the American Library Association had been tracking the efforts.
Conservative measures to reconstruct school curricula do not stop with books. Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) enacted new standards that require public school teachers to instruct students about the “benefits” of slavery.
A separate Arkansas lawsuit is currently challenging the Crawford County library’s decision to move children’s books that include LGBTQ themes to a different section of the library.
It is unclear whether Huckabee and her allies will challenge Brooks’ decision.
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