Llano County ordered to return books to library shelves

Yes, this is a thing that is happening in the year of our Lord 2023.

Officials in Llano County must return to the public library system books they removed and allow them to be checked out again, a federal judge ruled this week.

The Texas judge is also prohibiting the officials from removing any more books while a lawsuit remains pending.

Seven library patrons last year sued the county judge, commissioners court, library board members and library system for restricting and banning books. They argue in the suit that their First Amendment rights to access and receive ideas had been infringed when officials limited access to certain books based on their content and messages. The county residents also alleged their 14th Amendment right to due process was violated as the books were removed without notice or ability to appeal.

The books included a book for teens that calls the Ku Klux Klan a terrorist group, Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” and a comedic children’s book with three stories from Dawn McMillan’s “I Need a New Butt!” series.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman wrote in an opinion filed Thursday that the plaintiffs had “clearly met their burden to show that these are content-based restrictions that are unlikely to pass constitutional muster.”

Still, Pitman dismissed part of the suit, which wanted county officials to reinstate the library’s previous system for e-book access.

County officials appealed Pitman’s order reinstating the banned books, according to court filings. None were immediately reached for comment. Their lawyer, former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

“The evidence demonstrates that, without an injunction, defendants will continue to make access to the subject books difficult or impossible,” Pitman wrote.


The books at issue in the suit are “available” for check out but are hidden from view and not in the catalog.

“Their existence is not discernible to the public, nor is their availability,” Pitman wrote.

The county has also created an in-house checkout system, which does not list the books that are supposedly available to be checked out.

“They are, to the extent they exist, not accessible from the library shelves,” Pitman wrote. “A patron must, notwithstanding the fact that the books’ existence is not reflected in the library catalog, know that the books can be requested. They must then make a special request for the book to be retrieved from behind the counter. This is, of course, an obvious and intentional (effort) by defendants to make it difficult if not impossible to access the materials plaintiffs seek.”

The appeal was filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

See here for the background. As a reminder, this is happening at the public library, not a school library. Not that it would be any better at a school library, but this is how far the fanatics are going. And yes, the attorney for said fanatics is the same guy who helped design the vigilante bounty hunter anti-abortion law SB8 and who is representing the guy who is suing his ex-wife’s friends for helping her find abortion medication, among many other things. These guys don’t just want to take your reproductive rights away from you, they have a whole lot more on their agenda. And now we get to see what the current level of depravity is at the Fifth Circuit. Hold on tight.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Legal matters and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.