In response to a federal judge’s ruling that the commissioners’ decision to ban a dozen largely children’s books violated the constitution and ordered their return to circulation, a small Texas county is considering closing down its public library system.
The decision to “maintain or terminate operations” at the library is the first item on the agenda of the special meeting of the Llano County commissioners, which is planned for Thursday.
The Llano County Library Advisory Board
One of the seven local citizens who successfully sued the county for outlawing the books, Leila Green Little, urged county residents to attend the special meeting and address the commissioners in an email sent out on Monday. “We may not get another opportunity to save our library system and, more importantly, the public servants who work there,” Little wrote.
A screenshot of a text message Bonnie Wallace, vice chair of the Llano County Library Advisory Board, made to one of Little’s supporters was also included in the news. The seven residents acquired it as part of the discovery process for the lawsuit they brought against the county on April 25, 2022.
The judge has threatened to close the library if we lose the injunction because he WILL NOT put the porn back in the children’s area, it stated in part. According to Little, Wallace referred to Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham but did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Moreover, the judge did not answer a phone from NBC News. It was unclear what novels Wallace was referring to as “porn” at first.
The titles taken off the library shelves by Llano County officials include Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s “They Called Themselves the K.K.K. The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” Tillie Walden’s graphic novel “Spinning,” and three titles from Dawn McMillan’s “I Need a New Butt!” series.
A Mississippi elementary school’s assistant principal was fired the previous year for reading “I Need a New Butt!” to a second-grade class. The cause? Because the book contained cartoon depictions of a child’s butt and terms like “butt” and “fart.”
Four other children’s picture books with “silly themes and rhymes,” such as “Larry the Farting Leprechaun,” “Gary the Goose and His Gas on the Loose,” “Freddie the Farting Snowman,” and “Harvey the Heart Has Too Many Farts,” were also taken out of the library, according to the complaint, along with Robie H. Harris’ “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health”
After U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman last week ruled in favor of the seven local people who had sued Cunningham, Wallace, the Llano County commissioners, and the other library board members for removing the books, the Llano County commissioners held an emergency meeting.
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In their complaint, the residents stated that the defendants “claim to be on a hunt to eliminate ‘pornographic’ materials.” None of the publications the defendants have singled out are pornographic. Therefore, this is just a pretext. The residents claimed the removal of the books without warning or an opportunity to appeal violated their rights to free speech under the First Amendment and to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Judge concurred. We want to let you that we have great news for you about Rural School Leaders who Oppose The Business Incentive Bill.
The plaintiffs “clearly met their burden to show that these are content-based restrictions that are unlikely to pass constitutional muster,” Pitman wrote in an opinion filed Thursday.
“The evidence demonstrates that, without an injunction, defendants will continue to make access to the subject books difficult or impossible,” Pitman wrote, referring to the Llano county officials.
However, the seven residents did not completely succeed. Pitman rejected a portion of the lawsuit that demanded that county officials restore the library’s prior electronic book access system, which provided them with online access to 17,000 books.
According to NBC News last year, conservative parents throughout the nation have been pressuring schools and public libraries to end digital programs that enable students to download and read books on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops.