The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a block on a new Texas law requiring publishers to designate books as having either sexually relevant or sexually explicit content before they can be sold to public schools. Publishers sued to overturn the law, claiming it’s “unduly burdensome, logistically unattainable, and risked pushing some businesses out of the public school market” (Heaven forbid anyone should be pushed out of the business of exposing minors to porn.) The Appeals panel sided with them, claiming that it violates the publishers’ First Amendment rights.
That seems a bit bewildering, considering it doesn’t ban the sale of books, it just requires the labeling of their contents before they can be sold to schools and seen by children. Does this mean that the Hollywood movie rating label system that restricts audiences under 13 or 17 from seeing certain films is also unconstitutional? Here are more details on the case…
The law’s creator, state Rep. Jared Patterson, said a number of attorneys worked on the bill and reviewed Supreme Court cases in writing it, and they will appeal. He said the law isn’t about censoring characters or stories, but “content that is just radically vulgar and obscene.” He gave an example from a book found in Dallas school libraries that was described as “inappropriately crude and even pornographic,” but I’m not going to repeat it here. You can click the link and read it yourself if you’re over 17.
I wonder what the Founders would say if they knew that one day, a major political party in power in America would interpret the First Amendment to mean that you could censor and jail people for criticizing the government, but giving pornography to school children is free speech?