A federal judge sided with a coalition of book vendors and said he would block a new law to keep smut out of Texas school libraries.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan Albright indicated during an online status call that he would soon issue a preliminary junction blocking House Bill 900 from taking effect on September 1.

Following months of parental outrage over sexually explicit materials in student libraries, the Texas Legislature passed ​​HB 900 by State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco). HB 900 prohibits school libraries from housing materials that are sexually explicit, vulgar, or educationally unsuitable. It also sets up state standards for keeping inappropriate sexual content out of all school libraries and classrooms.

The new state law requires vendors to rate and label books based on sexual content. Vendors that fail to comply cannot sell books to Texas schools.

Albright’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in July alleging that the law is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

​​The plaintiffs claimed the new law “replaces long-established rights of local communities to set and implement standards for school materials within constitutional boundaries, and forces private businesses to act as instruments of state censorship on controversial topics under threat of retaliation.”

The coalition of book vendors praised Albright’s decision and said they “look forward to reading the court’s full opinion once it is issued.”

“We are grateful for the Court’s swift action in deciding to enjoin this law, in the process preserving the long-established rights of local communities to set their own standards; protecting the constitutionally protected speech of authors, booksellers, publishers and readers; preventing the state government from unlawfully compelling speech on the part of private citizens; and shielding Texas businesses from the imposition of impossibly onerous conditions,” wrote the vendors.

However, Christin Bentley, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and leader of the Stop Sexualizing Kids initiative, condemned the ruling.

“Today’s injunction was not unexpected. Liberal activists cherry-picked a friendly court to temporarily block HB900,” said Bentley. “We anticipate a quick appeal from the Acting Attorney General of Texas. In the meantime, Texas school officials have always had the legal authority and moral imperative to remove explicit materials from their libraries.”

Bentley encouraged concerned citizens to continue holding school districts accountable for including explicits books in their libraries.

“The Stop Sexualizing Texas Kids Legislative Committee will be holding trainings across the state, educating parents and community members on how to identify and remove educationally unsuitable books from Texas schools,” said Bentley. “We will hold school boards accountable to doing the right thing by Texas children.”

Judge Albright is expected to issue his written order within the next two weeks.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.