Criminal Law

Federal Lawsuit Launched Against Arkansas Law That Allows Librarians To Be Charged Criminally

Federal Lawsuit Launched Against Arkansas

 An Arkansas law was passed that would allow librarians and other book dealers to be subject to criminal charges and investigation. Under this law, they would be criminally charged if they were to provide any harmful material to minor readers. 

This lawsuit was filed against the backdrop of recent events of lawmakers from conservative States supporting restrictive access to books. Some conservative lawmakers have also been keen on banning certain materials that they feel are inappropriate for kids. The law is all set to take effect on 1st August 2023. A coalition was formed by the Little Rock Central Arkansas Library System to pose a challenge to this law. 

This tricky piece of legislation also aims to create a new process to relocate materials available in the library in a way that is inaccessible to kids. It is to be noted that in the past 20 years, 2023 has seen the maximum attempts made by lawmakers to ban or restrict books across the country. This report comes from the American Library Association which has been keeping detailed track of such efforts all around the nation. 

The lawsuit that was filed promptly stated that booksellers or librarians would out of sheer fear of prosecution no longer be able to carry any material that could be challenged. Republican Governor Sanders of the state of Arkansas signed this law back in March this year, and it is all set to be enacted in August. 

The legislation under question is the Arkansas Act 372. The act amends an already existing piece of legislation. This act stipulates that any material that is considered obscene shall not be available for distribution as library books to minor readers. The amendment made to the act includes the introduction of criminal penalties for library owners and employees for distributing these materials to children.

A joint lawsuit was filed by the authorities of the Fayetteville Public Library and the Pearl’s Book Store. The executive director operating at this public library has also stated that the law and the amendment being proposed are indeed vague.

A renowned political action community known as Every Library has stated that this year they have tracked more than 120 legislature proposals that aim to target educators and material supplied in libraries for the same reason. A major chunk of these 120 applications proposed criminal prosecution for librarians and educators who went against the law. It has been complained that the word “obscene” in Arkansas Act 372 can be easily misconstrued. 

Critics have called out this law for being vaguely written and leaving librarians without a clear concept of what they are legally allowed to do and what they are not. Among the protesters, the American Civil liberties union is also of the same notion. 

A similar lawsuit with filed last month that proposed that children’s books having LGBTQ material in them are to be moved to a different part of the library (Crawford County Library).

The American Booksellers Association and the Association of American Publishers are also among the plaintiffs who are challenging the new Arkansas law.

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Jyoti Jha
Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.

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