(Bismarck, ND) -- A prominent civil rights organization is calling a bill "unconstitutional" in a statement against several lawmakers.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Dakota is expressing concerns for an upcoming discussion that could ban public libraries across the state from offering "explicit sexual material" to residents and patrons. The bill, introduced by state representatives Mike Lefor (R - District 37) and Vicky Steiner (R - District 37), would cause libraries to create a system for removing books that are deemed sexually explicit material. The procedure would allow anyone to request for a book or materials to be removed from the collection, where it would be disposed of.
"Who decides what is considered explicit sexual material? Government officials cannot impose their personal moral values on others,” said Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager. “No one is going to agree on the merits of every book on a library’s shelf. The First Amendment’s guarantee of the freedom of speech and the right to access information has created a beautiful marketplace of ideas in our country. If you don’t like a book, there’s a simple solution: Don’t read it.”
The bill would also call for a procedure to "periodically review the library collection to ensure [it] does not contain explicit sexual material." Opponents of the bill argue the bill is contrary to The First Amendment; and would prohibit materials for all patrons, not just children or teenagers.
“Each of us gets to choose what books we read and what information we access — but we don’t get to choose for other people. Doing so is un-American and unconstitutional,” Schuler said. “Everyone should have the freedom to read.”
You can read House Bill 1205 by clicking here.