Judge Rejects Virginia Republicans’ Lawsuit to Restrict Barnes & Noble Book Sales

A Virginia judge on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit from two Republicans that aimed to restrict how private book stores and public libraries can distribute books to minors, The Washington Post reports.

Virginia Del. Tim Anderson and congressional candidate Tommy Altman filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent public school libraries and private book sellers like Barnes & Noble from distributing two books — Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Sarah J. Maas’ “A Court of Mist and Fury” — without getting permission from their parents.

Both books have drawn right-wing criticism because they include sexual content and LGBTQ themes.

The lawsuit comes amid an unprecedented right-wing campaign to restrict books available to minors.

Six states have passed laws to require parental consent or make it easier to remove books from schools with five more states looking at similar legislation.

Republicans in at least nine states are pushing bills that would require school libraries to ban certain content.

Lawsuit rejected:

The lawsuit cited a decades-old obscenity law that allows citizens to go to court to block books deemed obscene. Judge Pamela Baskervill rejected the lawsuit and said the obscenity law is unconstitutional.

Baskervill wrote that the law violates the First Amendment by allowing government censorship.

“Virginia Code § 18.2-384 is unconstitutional on its face,” she wrote.


Attorneys in the lawsuit said they are “reviewing” appeal options and may turn to “review by higher courts to conclusively answer this question.”

They may also seek “additions” to the law by the state legislature.

Jeff Trexler, who represented Kobabe in the case, praised the ruling.

“The fact is, [‘Gender Queer’] is not obscene, this is a work with serious, substantial, artistic, literary and political significance ... This case should never have been brought, and a case like this should never be brought again,” he said.


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