US Court of Appeals blocks Texas law that could ban or restrict library books


A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked a Texas law requiring ratings from booksellers doing business with school libraries, agreeing with a lower court that found it unconstitutional.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, said In the decision Published Wednesday that the state cannot violate the Constitution.

“We agree with the state that it has an interest in protecting children from harmful library materials. But no.” [the State] “The public has no interest in enforcing a regulation that violates federal law,” the appeals court wrote.

The decision prohibits the Texas Education Agency from enforcing the law.

Those who sued to block the Texas law, which includes libraries and associations representing authors and publishers, said the appeals court decision was historic and that it protects authors and allows parents to make decisions about their children without government interference.

“This is a good day for libraries, readers and freedom of expression,” the plaintiffs said. He said in a joint statement.

The law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year, would have forced any bookseller to go into public schools to evaluate books for sexual content.

The law sparked warnings that its broad language could lead to bans or restrictions on “Romeo and Juliet,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Mouse” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” according to a lawsuit filed by booksellers last year. .

It was scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, with classification scheduled for April 1, according to court documents. The Court of First Instance issued a restraining order in September.

The lower court found that decisions in other cases forced “a finding that the law is unconstitutional” and the Supreme Court held that people are free to express themselves as government-mandated.

In that lower decision, U.S. District Judge Alan Albright found that sections of the law — the Restriction of Express and Adult Educational Resources, or READER Act — were unconstitutionally vague, noting that there was a wide disparity in the grades and ages that booksellers would have to try to calculate.

The Texas Education Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

The appeals court found that libraries and others suing against the law are likely to succeed on the grounds that the law violates their First Amendment rights.

It also found that they would suffer irreparable economic damage. Blue Willow, one of the booksellers, claimed to have sold $200,000 worth of books to a school district in Katy over the past five to seven years, but the district has now paused all purchases from any seller.

The law also means that booksellers will have to evaluate books already sold. Blue Willow estimated it would cost $200 to $1,000 per book to comply with the law, and $4.5 million to value books already sold — while its annual sales are just over $1 million, according to the appeals court opinion.

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