Federal judge blocks Arkansas law banning librarians from exposing minors to ‘harmful’ material

A federal judge has blocked Arkansas’s state from enforcing the law which would have criminalized libraries and bookshops for providing “harmful” material to minors.

U.S. district judge Timothy L. Brooks issued an injunction to stop the law from taking effect on Aug. 1.

Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders enacted the law in early this year. A coalition, including the Central Arkansas Library System, challenged the law. They argued that fear of prosecution could cause libraries and bookshops to stop carrying titles that might be challenged.

Judge Brookes denied a motion filed by defendants including prosecuting attorneys of the state to dismiss the case.

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The ACLU of Arkansas (which represents some of plaintiffs) applauded court’s decision, stating that the absence of preliminary injunctions would have compromised First Amendment rights.

“The question that we had to answer was: Do Arkansans have legal access to reading material? The judicial system has successfully defended our liberties, Holly Dickson, executive director of ACLU Arkansas, said.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said to The Associated Press that his office will “review the judge’s decision and continue to vigorously protect the law.”

In the Arkansas lawsuit, Crawford County and all 28 local prosecutors in Arkansas are named as defendants. Separately, a lawsuit has been filed against the Crawford County Library for its decision to relocate children’s books with LGBTQ+ themes into a different section of the library.

The American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers and the Fayetteville Carnegie Public Libraries are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Arkansas’ restrictions.