Judge blocks Arkansas book ban that could jail librarians

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then the White House press secretary, reads a children’s book during the 2018 White House Easter egg roll (screengrab via YouTube).

A federal judge quoted the book “Fahrenheit 451” in a ruling Saturday as he blocked Arkansas’ new law that would have allowed authorities to criminally prosecute and jail librarians who loaned children books that the state deems “harmful to minors.”

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed Act 372 into law in March. It requires individuals to adhere to a strict procedure of challenging books bans and punishes violations with up to six years in prison or fines of $10,000.

U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks, a Barack Obama appointee, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law just two days before it was set to go into effect. Brooks’ order was in favor of the plaintiffs, a group of bookstores, libraries, and individuals in Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Eureka Springs, who argued that the law unconstitutionally requires them to remove all books from their young adult and general collections that mention sex or sexual conduct, or else ban all minors from entering their spaces.

“‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.’ –Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451,” Brooks wrote atop his 49-page ruling.

Judge blocks Arkansas book ban that could jail librarians

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