Court Battles

Texas county to keep libraries open after book ban ruling

Llano County, Texas, will keep its libraries open after local leaders considered closing them following a federal court ruling that the county could not remove books they considered bad for children.

“For those who don’t understand what happened … the library will remain open,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said. “We will try this in the courts, not through social media or news media.”

Llano County removed a slate of books from its library shelves in 2021, sparking a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. Most of the banned books were children’s titles that included sex, gender and race themes, but it also included joke books and Maurice Sendak’s picture book “In the Night Kitchen.”

“I think we owe it to all parents, regardless if it’s a school library or a public library, to make sure that material is not inappropriate for children,” Cunningham said at the time.

A federal judge ordered the books back on the shelves last week, sparking a discussion among county leaders whether to close the library entirely.

“Defendants removed the books at issue to prevent access to viewpoints and content to which they objected,” Judge Robert Pitman said in his opinion. He added the county’s logic would likely not “pass constitutional muster.”

The controversy comes as counties around the country are removing books from library shelves, claiming that some titles are not appropriate for children. Much of the discussion claims that books containing any content referring to the LGBTQ community is “grooming,” a viewpoint which has been denounced as bigoted by LGBTQ community advocates.

After banning the books in 2021, Llano County commissioners dissolved the library’s own board.

“This is a ringing victory for democracy,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Ellen Leonida said in a statement earlier this month. “The government cannot tell citizens what they can or can’t read. Our nation was founded on the free exchange of ideas, and banning books you disagree with is a direct attack on our most basic liberties.”

Tags Book ban

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