A group of families and librarians filed suit in federal court this week to block the implementation of new library material policies enacted by the Autauga-Prattville Public Library Board of Trustees in Alabama. Filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, the suit seeks a preliminary injunction blocking the library board’s newly enacted policies and a declaration that the policies are unconstitutional.

Among the new policies challenged in the complaint are a provision that bars the library from purchasing new materials for patrons under 17 that include "obscenity, sexual conduct, sexual intercourse, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender discordance"; a new library card policy that bars patrons under 17 from accessing materials that include any of those same themes; and a new review policy that would remove challenged books from library shelves while a review is conducted.

"The Selection Criteria Policy and Library Cards for Minors Policy each violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution," the complaint states. "They are overbroad. They discriminate on the basis of content. And they are vague. Plaintiffs, who include library card holders injured by the policies, a local grassroots organization of library supporters and patrons, and a statewide organization of librarians and library supporters, therefore ask this Court to invalidate these violations of the First Amendment, to declare the policies unconstitutional and void, and to enjoin the Board from implementing or enforcing these policies."

The suit was filed by the grassroots advocacy group Read Freely Alabama, the Alabama Library Association, and a group of families, with support from Democracy Forward, a nonprofit legal organization that works with local communities around the country to challenge book bans. “This is about who should get to decide what books our kids get to read—parents or politicians,” said Angie Hayden of Read Freely Alabama, in a statement.

The suit comes amid a months-long drama which saw allies of right wing group Clean Up Prattville take over the library board and abruptly fire the Autauga-Prattville Public Library director Andrew Foster. It also comes amid a statewide effort to bar librarians from associating with the American Library Association and a battle over new statewide library materials policies for public libraries.

In a statement, library leaders said that the battle in Prattville is a proxy for a broader attacks on libraries statewide.

“The Autauga-Prattville Public Library Board of Trustees’ clear partnership with the Moms for Liberty–adjacent Clean Up Alabama makes them the latest in a concerning trend of far-right efforts to suppress books that reflect perspectives they don’t agree with in communities across the country,” said Craig Scott, president of the Alabama Library Association, in a statement. “As state legislators rush to expand on the policies put in place in Prattville, it is crucial that the courts make clear that in our democracy, you cannot discriminate or restrict the freedom to read.”