Texas county to consider shutting down library after judge orders contested books returned to shelves
Officials in Llano County, Texas will meet this week to decide if they will close their local public library system and terminate all employees after a federal judge last week ordered 12 books with LGBTQ and race-related content to be returned to library shelves.
Seven residents sued the county after books including “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” by Jazz Jennings were taken off library shelves, CNN reports.
In their First and Fourteenth Amendment lawsuit residents says their civil rights were violated. A federal judge agreed, ordering the county to put the books back on the shelves within 24 hours.
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“They argue in the suit that their First Amendment rights to access and receive ideas had been infringed when officials limited access to certain books based on their content and messages. The county residents also alleged their 14th Amendment right to due process was violated as the books were removed without notice or ability to appeal,” The Texas Tribune reports.
“U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman wrote in an opinion filed Thursday that the plaintiffs had ‘clearly met their burden to show that these are content-based restrictions that are unlikely to pass constitutional muster.’”
The Tribune’s Alejandro Serrano Monday evening reported, “Less than two weeks after a federal judge ordered Llano County officials to return to the public library system books they’d removed and allow them to be checked out again, officials this week will consider shutting down the library.”
Serrano posted a copy of a special meeting agenda, and this link to it.
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One agenda item reads: “Continue or cease operations of the current physical Llano County Library System pending further guidance from the Federal Courts. This action item will include discussion and action regarding the continued employment and/or status of the Llano County Library System employees and the feasibility of the use of the library premises by the public.”
\u201cThat's according to an agenda for a special meeting called for Thursday. Here is the agenda, which includes an item to continue or cease operations of the current physical library system + employment of the system's employees.\n\nhttps://t.co/ZGiC4nQXVt\u201d— Alejandro Serrano (@Alejandro Serrano) 1681163348
“Two of the members of the commissioners court — the county judge and a precinct commissioner — are named defendants in the suit challenging the book removals,” Serrano adds. “The defendants have appealed the federal judge’s temporary injunction with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
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