Officials in a central Texas county were ordered to return 17 banned library books to the shelves in a ruling viewed as a major First Amendment victory.
Botkin Chiarello Calaf partners Ryan Botkin, María Amelia Calaf (MAC), and Katherine Chiarello, along with of counsel Kayna Levy, were part of the legal team representing a group of Llano library patrons suing county commissioners, the library board, and the library systems director.
Supporters of free speech applauded the March 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who granted a preliminary injunction ordering Llano County officials to immediately return the censored books to the shelves. In addition, Judge Pitman prohibited the county officials from removing any more books “for any reason” while the lawsuit is pending.
“Judge Pitman’s ruling is a victory for Llano County residents and the First Amendment,” Ryan said. In arguing for the preliminary injunction, the Botkin Chiarello Calaf team said the removal of the books infringed on First Amendment rights to access and receive ideas, while the lack of notice or ability to appeal violated the 14th Amendment right to due process.
The books at issue included non-fiction books about L.G.B.T.Q. issues and American history, such as “Caste,” by Isabel Wilkerson, “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and the Caldecott award-winning children’s classic novel “In the Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak.
The suit is Leila Green Little, et al. v. Llano County, et al., No. 1:22-cv-00424-RP.