A federal lawsuit challenging Arkansas’s new censorship law won’t go to trial until October at the soonest.

U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks today set the tentative date for the bench trial for October in Fayetteville.

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The law in question, Act 372, was originally scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, but the challenged portions of it are now on hold pending trial.

Buoyed by a conservative book-banning wave targeting sex education, LGBTQ+-themes and social justice issues, Act 372 aims to control what public libraries put on their shelves. Under the new law, librarians could face up to a year in jail if they fail to prevent minors from accessing books that could be considered harmful. The law also sets a new system for determining what materials are appropriate in public libraries, and gives local elected officials authority to keep books available, or ban them.

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In his order, Brooks said parties involved in the case have indicated the trial will take three days. He said the case, therefore, could come up anytime during a two-week period starting Oct. 15.  He plans to set a more precise starting date later.

“If for some reason the case is ‘bumped’ because the Court cannot accommodate all trials set for the [two-week] term, then the case will be re-set and tried during the ‘back-up’ trial date which is set for the week of December 16, 2024,” the judge wrote.

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In July, Brooks stopped the book censorship law in its tracks — a victory for a group of 18 plaintiffs, including libraries, library patrons and booksellers.

Brooks issued his order for a preliminary injunction after hearing arguments from attorneys representing the plaintiffs and Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office.

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State Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) sponsored the censorship bill that became law. Among those challenging the law’s constitutionality are the Central Arkansas Library System and the Fayetteville Public Library.

 

 

 

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