AUSTIN, TX – A coalition of booksellers, publishers, and authors, including Book People, Inc., VBK, Inc. (doing business as Blue Willow Bookshop), American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Inc., and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, have filed a lawsuit against Texas officials over a recently enacted law that bans books deemed “sexually explicit” and restricts access to books deemed “sexually relevant” in public schools (the “Book Ban”). The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division (Case No. 1:23-cv-858) [Page 1].
The defendants named in the lawsuit are Martha Wong, in her official capacity as Chair of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Keven Ellis in his official capacity as Chair of the Texas Board of Education, and Mike Morath in his official capacity as Commissioner of Education [Page 1].
The plaintiffs argue that the Book Ban, which is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2023, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because it is an overbroad and vague content-based law that targets protected speech and is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state [Page 2].
The lawsuit further alleges that the Book Ban establishes an unconstitutional regime of compelled speech, retaliation, and licensing that violates clear First Amendment precedent and this country’s history of fostering a robust marketplace of ideas [Page 4].
The plaintiffs claim that the Book Ban will cause them irreparable personal and economic injury each day it is in effect [Page 26]. They are seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the defendants and their agents from enforcing the Book Ban in any manner whatsoever, and a declaratory judgment that the Book Ban is unconstitutional [Page 27].
The plaintiffs have already suffered actual injury by the Ban because at least one school district, Katy ISD, ceased all library book purchases, including those from plaintiffs, after the Ban’s passage [Page 26]. Further injury is imminent when the Book Ban takes effect on September 1, 2023 [Page 26].