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Texas Lawmaker Calls For Supreme Court Defense Of Book Ban: What’s At Stake?

Texas state Rep. Jared Patterson has urged Attorney General Ken Paxton to defend his law banning sexually explicit books from libraries in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a letter to Paxton, Patterson said the decision by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to block his law was “ridiculous.”

“As the author of HB 900, known as the READER Act, I ask you to appeal their decision to the Supreme Court of the United States as soon as possible,” Patterson wrote in the letter. “The implications of this legislation are significant, not only for our state, but also for the entire national discourse on protecting children against inappropriate and obscene content.”

The law required booksellers to rate books based on the presence of sexually relevant content. The bill would require vendors in each community to determine whether or not a book should be subject to removal.

The legal battle over HB 900 began when BookPeople in Austin and Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston filed a lawsuit against the state after the law was passed. Their argument centered on the violation of First Amendment rights, coupled with practical concerns about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of implementing the law.

“Booksellers should not be put in the position of broadly determining what best serves all Texan communities. Each community is individual and has different needs,” BookPeople CEO Charley Rejsek said in the statement. “Setting local guidelines is not the government’s job either. It is the local librarian’s and teacher’s job, in conjunction with the community they serve.”

Despite the Fifth Circuit’s conservative leanings, it upheld the earlier decision to halt enforcement of HB 900, citing potential violations of free speech rights. The court’s stance reflected the principle that any erosion of First Amendment freedoms constitutes irreparable harm, particularly with respect to compelled speech as outlined in the READER Act. The court also expressed concern that a book might pass muster in one community but fail in another.

Written by RA News staff.


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