Federal judge blocks Texas book rating bill
Texas (KXII) - House Bill 900 would require school library vendors to rate all their books and materials for appropriateness based on the presence of sex depictions or references before selling them to schools.
Jonathon Covey is the policy director for Texas Values, a nonprofit that says they work on the areas of faith, family, and freedom.
He says the bill would give parents more information about the books their kids have access to.
“This particular piece of legislation is really meant to bring transparency to parents,” Covey said. “It’s meant to make sure that kids are not exposed to sexually designated material.”
According to the Texas Tribune, the bill was approved during this year’s legislative session, and Governor Greg Abbott signed it in June.
It was set to go into effect on Sept. 1, but Federal Judge Alan Albright granted a temporary injunction asked for by a group of book groups and sellers who sued the state over the bill back in July.
“The judge put a pause on that and said, until we can fully litigate this case, until I can get full briefing on the merits on this case, this bill is not going into effect,” Covey said.
The plaintiffs, including two Texas bookstores, argue that the law violates their constitutional rights by targeting first amendment-protected speech with vague and broad language.
Librarians and legal experts are also concerned that the vague language in the bill would flag books that are not inappropriate or are important for students whose lived experiences are not reflected in other books.
In a joint statement, the plaintiffs said that they are grateful for the court’s swift action in deciding to halt the law, and that they look forward to reading the court’s full opinion once it is issued.
As of Tuesday, the judge has not released his official written order or decision on the issue.
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