Case Overview

Iowa’s Senate File 496, passed in May 2023, bans public schools from carrying any books that depict a “sex act.” The law was challenged in two different lawsuits. In a combined order, the federal district court halted enforcement of SF496, ruling it “is incredibly broad,” “has resulted in the removal of hundreds of books from school libraries, including . . . classic works of fiction,” and is “unlikely to satisfy the First Amendment under any standard.” After the State of Iowa appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit, FIRE filed an amicus curiae brief arguing the district court was correct. The First Amendment does not let Iowa use public-school libraries for political ends. The State cannot force local schools to pull classic works from their shelves.