LITTLE ROCK – Today a federal district court in the western district of Arkansas granted a motion to temporarily block portions of Act 372 from taking effect. The law was set to go into effect on August 1. The court also denied the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Fayetteville Public Library, Eureka Springs Carnegie Library, Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), various individual librarians and readers, Arkansas Library Association (ArLA), Advocates for All Arkansas Libraries (AAAL), Freedom to Read Foundation, Inc. (FTRF), several bookstores and publishing associations, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Section 3 of Act 372, which would have criminalized librarians and booksellers for providing access to materials deemed “harmful to minors,” will be blocked from taking effect while the case moves forward. The court also blocked Section 5 of the law, which would have required libraries to establish material review processes, and sought to grant county quorum courts the power to force libraries to remove materials that may be protected by the First Amendment.
ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson welcomed the ruling saying, “We commend the court's decision to stop the enforcement of Sections 3 and 5 of Act 372, which would have jeopardized the essential First Amendment rights of all residents of Arkansas. It's regrettable that we even have to question whether our constitutional rights are still respected today. The question we had to ask was — do Arkansans still legally have access to reading materials? Luckily, the judicial system has once again defended our highly valued liberties. We are committed to maintaining the fight to safeguard everyone's right to access information and ideas."
Act 372 attempts to revive an old Arkansas law, which was previously declared unconstitutional after a similar challenge to that law by bookstores, librarians, authors, and the ACLU of Arkansas in 2004.
About the ACLU of Arkansas
The ACLU of Arkansas is a nonprofit organization that defends and preserves the rights and liberties of individuals guaranteed by the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions and civil rights law. Through legal action, advocacy, and education, the ACLU of Arkansas works to protect civil rights and liberties for all Arkansans.