Judge orders Llano County officials to return banned books to library shelves

Officials in Llano County must return to the public library system books they removed and allow them to be checked out again, a federal judge ruled this week.

From the Texas Tribune:

The Judge’s order arrived in the middle of a continued effort by Texas politicians and some parents to restrict access to books they say are inappropriate. But literacy advocates say many of the titles Texans are targeting are mostly about sexuality and race. The Legislature is considering restrictions that would affect hundreds of school libraries across the state.

“Several patrons of Llano County’s three libraries filed the lawsuit in April 2022, alleging that their First Amendment rights were violated when county and library officials removed certain books from the system after some community members complained over literary messages and content. They also claim their 14th Amendment right to due process was violated because there was no notice posted of the books’ removal nor an opportunity to appeal the decision.  Among the defendants listed in the case are Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, Commissioner Jerry Don Moss, Library System Director Amber Milum and members of the library board. Jonathan Mitchell, an attorney who has crafted several pieces of conservative legislation, including the state’s six-week abortion ban, is representing the defendants.” Austin American-Statesman

FReadom Fighters, a group of librarians that was started in November 2021 amid the challenges, called Pitman’s order a success.

County officials appealed Pitman’s order reinstating the banned books, according to court filings. None were immediately reached for comment. Their lawyer, former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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