World news | A Texas county has removed 17 books from its libraries. An appeals court says eight should be returned.

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New Orleans, June 7 (AP) Eight books on topics including racism and transgender issues must be returned to library shelves in a rural Texas county that had removed them in an ongoing controversy over a book ban, a divided panel of three federal judges ruled. appeals court Thursday.

It was a partial victory for seven library administrators who had sued numerous officials with the Llano County library system and the county government after 17 books were removed. According to Thursday’s opinion by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, one judge voted to uphold a lower court order that the books be returned. Another largely agreed, but said nine of the books could remain off the shelves as the appeal plays out.

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A third strongly disagreed, meaning a majority were in favor of returning eight books.

In March 2023, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered 17 books returned to Kingsland library shelves while a civil lawsuit against the book ban was pending. The works ranged from children’s books to award-winning nonfiction, including “They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health,” by Robie Harris.

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Pitman’s ruling, which was brought to federal court by former President Barack Obama, was stayed during the appeal. Thursday’s ruling was a preliminary injunction and more legal proceedings are likely.

The most important opinion was from Judge Jacques Wiener, nominated by former President George HW Bush. Wiener said the books were clearly removed at the insistence of county officials who disagreed with the books’ messages.

“But a book should not be removed for the sole – or substantial – reason that the decision maker does not want customers to have access to the book’s point of view or message,” Wiener wrote.

Judge Leslie Southwick, a nominee of former President George W. Bush, partly agreed. He argued that some of the takedowns could stand a court test as the case progresses, noting that some books were more about “juvenile, windy humor” than heavier topics.

“I do not find that those books were removed based on a dislike of the ideas contained therein, when the books have not been shown to contain ideas with which one disagrees,” Southwick wrote.

Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, a nominee of former President Donald Trump, strongly disagreed. “The commission hanging in my office says ‘Judge,’ not ‘Librarian.’ Duncan wrote. “Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that my two esteemed colleagues have appointed themselves co-chairs of every public library board in the Fifth Circuit.”

The circuit includes federal courts in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. (AP)

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