A Great Day for Texas Book Lovers!

Texas Freedom to Read Project celebrates the ruling issued by the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down HB900.

Texas Freedom to Read Project is thrilled that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in blocking HB900, has recognized and affirmed booksellers, librarians, teachers, and parents' concerns that the law violates the First Amendment. We thank BookPeople and Blue Willow Bookshop for their courage and tenacity in standing up against this unconstitutional law. This is a win for Texas students and a vindication of the freedom to read.

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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is known to be one of the most conservative courts in the country. The judges did not hold back in their dismantling of the state's defense of the READER Act (HB900). The entire 34 page ruling is worth reading, but here are some of our favorite parts. 

  • The state of Texas claims HB900 (READER Act) does not actually prevent book sellers from selling books because the law does not have any real way to enforce the rating system. The 5th Circuit’s response to Texas: “You’re 1/2 right.”
  • Plaintiffs allege that HB900 is "textbook compelled speech.” The right of freedom of thought (per the 1st amendment) is the right to speak freely & the right to refrain from speaking at all. But HB 900 requires them to “either speak as the State demands" or suffer the consequences.”
  • The state of Texas claims there are exceptions to compelled speech doctrine. #1 Government Operations. The 5th circuit says,”This goes beyond a mere disclosure of demographic or similar factual information. We therefore conclude that the exception does not apply.”

  • The state claims the commercial speech exception which allows the government to require the dissemination of “purely factual and uncontroversial information.” The 5th circuit says: “The ratings required in HB 900 are neither factual nor uncontroversial.”

  • The state of Texas tried to compare the HB 900 (READER) rating system to video game ratings and cigarette warnings. The 5th Circuit disagreed and reminded the state that video game ratings are “entirely voluntary,” and cigarette warnings are “purely factual and uncontroversial.”

  • In closing, the 5th circuit found that the plaintiffs in this case (book sellers) will likely succeed in claims that HB 900 (READER Act) violates their first amendment rights. [mic drop]

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Thank you to all of the plaintiffs, advocates and everyday students, educators, librarians, parents & community members who continue to fight for the freedom to read in Texas (and beyond)!

censorship HB900