Today in New Orleans, Botkin Chiarello Calaf partner Katherine Chiarello argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on behalf of seven Llano County library patrons in one of the nation’s first public library “book ban” cases to be heard by a federal appellate court.
BCC’s clients prevailed in the District Court, which ordered Llano County to return the censored books to the public library shelves. In its ruling, the District Court defended the First Amendment right to maintain free access to all the ideas that a public library has to offer—even those ideas the government has deemed to be offensive or contrary to its preferred ideology.
In today’s argument, Katherine urged the three-judge appellate panel to uphold the lower court’s decision based on its findings that Llano County’s government singled out certain books because of their content and viewpoint. She argued that the Fifth Circuit must respect the lower court’s assessment of Llano County’s true motivations and leave the temporary injunction in place while the case proceeds.
Although the County has temporarily replaced the books in circulation, it argues that it should have unchallenged discretion to pick and choose what books are available to the patrons of the public library without regard to the First Amendment rights of its citizens. We disagree, and Katherine’s argument today is an important effort to fight the recent wave of government censorship gaining traction in certain pockets of the country.
Our cause has attracted nationwide support from across the political spectrum. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), The Association of American Publishers (and its leading publisher-members), the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Texas Library Association, and the American Library Association all filed friend of the court briefs in support of Plaintiffs/Appellees’ position and urged the Fifth Circuit to affirm the District Court’s ruling. We are deeply grateful for their support.
The suit is Leila Green Little, et al. v. Llano County, et al., No. 1:22-cv-00424-RP. In addition to Katherine, the Botkin Chiarello Calaf team consists of name partners Ryan Botkin and María Amelia Calaf and of counsels Ian Crichton and Kayna Levy. The team for BraunHagey & Borden is led by Ellen Leonida and includes Matthew Borden, Marissa R. Benavides, Max Bernstein, and Kory James DeClark.
You can learn more about the case here: The New York Times and CNN.
You can read amici briefs here:
Friend of the Court Brief of The Association of American Publishers, Inc., Candlewick Press, Inc., Hachette Book Group, Inc., Harpercollins Publishers LLC, Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, Penguin Random House LLC, Scholastic Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Brief of Amicus Curiae Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees and Affirmance
Brief of Amici Curiae Freedom to Read Foundation, Texas Library Association, and American Library Association in Support of Appellees and Affirmance