Texas law requiring books to be rated on its sexual content ruled unconstitutional by appeals court

Pooja Lodhia Image
Friday, January 19, 2024
Appeals court blocks TEA from enforcing law that required book ratings
An appeals court ruled a Texas law unconstitutional which would've required vendors to rate a book's sexual content before being sold to schools.

A state law has been declared unconstitutional that would have required book vendors to rate books for their sexual content before selling them to schools.

After the new bill passed last summer, the owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in the Spring Branch area and other booksellers sued, saying the new law is vague and targets protected speech by forcing them to comment on books.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has now sided with the booksellers.

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"The bookseller plaintiffs in this case all talked about their inability to comply with the law even if they tried," Laura Prather, the attorney for the booksellers, explained. "The definitions were too hard to comply with, and the expense was too onerous for them to be able to assume."

At the beginning of the year, the state Board of Education started requiring all school libraries in Texas to have policies to keep out sexually explicit content.

Katy ISD, for example, allows anybody to come in and challenge a book in the school library. Every time a child checks out a book at Katy ISD, their parent or guardian is notified.

RELATED: Katy ISD revises language on controversial book policy as 'implied nudity' easy to misinterpret

"The environment right now is to take books off the shelves of libraries," Prather explained. "It really depends on the different ways that's being approached. Here, the Texas legislature overreached by requiring book vendors to rate every book they've ever sold."

The representative who filed the bill asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to get involved and appeal the ruling.

Eyewitness News has contacted Paxton's office, but we are still waiting for a comment.

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