A federal judge in Arkansas has temporarily halted a law which could have allowed criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing ‘harmful’ materials to children, that was due to come into effect on August 1st.
Lawsuit Background: A coalition, including the Central Arkansas Library System, challenged the law expressing concerns that fear of prosecution could lead to self-censorship by libraries and bookstores.
* U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued a preliminary injunction against the law after rejecting a motion to dismiss the case put forth by the defendants, primarily comprised of prosecuting attorneys for the state.
Key Quotes: The ACLU of Arkansas, which represents some of the plaintiffs, applauded the ruling.
* Holly Dickson, the executive director of the ACLU in Arkansas, praised the decision stating, “Luckily, the judicial system has once again defended our highly valued liberties,”
* Nate Coulter, the Central Arkansas Library System’s executive director, hailed the decision as recognizing the law as a violation of the Constitution and a false accusation against librarians.
Nationwide context: The lawsuit comes amid a broader trend where conservative states are pushing measures to make it easier to ban or restrict access to books.
* The American Library Association noted that the number of attempts to ban or restrict books across the U.S. last year was the highest in the organization’s 20-year history of tracking such efforts.
* Similar laws have been enacted in other states, including Iowa, Indiana, and Texas.
What’s next: Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin pledged to continue a vigorous defense of the law and is currently reviewing the judge’s opinion.
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