FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Today, Judge Timothy Brooks of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas issued a ruling in Fayetteville Public Library, et al. v. Crawford County et al., halting Section 1 and Section 5 of Arkansas Act 372 from going into effect on August 1. These sections of Act 372, which Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law earlier this year, would have librarians and booksellers work under a vague and looming threat of criminalization that encourages them to self-censor, and severely limit readers’ access to books in libraries and bookstores. A broad coalition of authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and readers filed suit in June of 2023, asserting that Sections 1 and 5 of Act 372 are unconstitutional.

Following the ruling, Democracy Forward Senior Counsel Ben Seel, who is representing the Arkansas Library Association, Advocates for All Arkansas Libraries, and Garland County Library Director Adam Webb in the litigation, issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling from the United State District Court for the Western District of Arkansas is a win for librarians, booksellers, and readers in Arkansas, and for the U.S. Constitution. The freedom of speech and freedom to read are bedrocks of our democracy, so we are pleased the court has halted these extreme provisions of Arkansas Act 372 from taking effect. By doing so, the court has made clear that librarians and booksellers across Arkansas can continue to serve Arkansans without fear of being prosecuted for simply doing their jobs and that readers across Arkansas can continue to access materials that interest them.”