New Book Law Causing Suit

June 24, 2003
Posted at: 9:12 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A law designed to keep inappropriate publications out of the hands of children is prompting a lawsuit.

Arkansas bookstores and librarians are suing over the law, which requires them to segregate material deemed inappropriate for minors. The federal lawsuit claims the law could unreasonably limit access to books and other publications.

The lawsuit also claims the law could force stores and libraries to have adults-only sections.

The American Civil Liberties Union is joining the plaintiffs.

State Senator David Bisbee, who helped author amendments that shaped the law, laughed about the lawsuit. He says the law targets lewd material, not the written word.

But ACLU officials say the law only refers to material "harmful to minors." They say that some works of literature could be deemed harmful and have to be restricted because of sexually-themed references.

They also question whether the same standards should be used for six-year-olds and 16-year-olds.

The lawsuit came on the same day the U-S Supreme Court upheld a law passed by Congress that would require libraries to put content filters on Internet computers. Libraries that don't install the filters would not be eligible for federal funds for Internet access.

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