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Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Law That Would Have Allowed Librarians to Face Criminal Charges for Providing ‘Harmful’ Materials

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against an Arkansas law that aimed to allow criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing “harmful” materials to minors. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year, would have also established a process to challenge library materials and request their relocation to areas inaccessible to children.

The Central Arkansas Library System and other organizations challenged the law, arguing that it could lead to self-censorship in libraries and bookstores. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks agreed with the plaintiffs and issued the injunction, temporarily blocking the enforcement of the law.

This ruling comes in the midst of a nationwide trend of conservative lawmakers seeking to restrict access to books. Last year saw a record number of attempts to ban or restrict books in the United States. Some states, including Iowa, Indiana, and Texas, have already enacted laws restricting access to certain materials or making it easier to challenge them.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has stated that his office will review the judge’s opinion and continue to defend the law. However, for now, librarians and booksellers in Arkansas can breathe a sigh of relief as this censorship law has been put on hold.

The lawsuit against Arkansas’ restrictions is supported by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Booksellers Association, and the Association of American Publishers. The plaintiffs argue that such laws limit the free speech rights of older minors and violate the Constitution.

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