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Barnes & Noble and the authors and publishers of two books being challenged in Virginia Beach Circuit Court are arguing the books are not obscene and restricting access to them would be a violation of constitutional rights.
Their court filings came about a month after Judge Pamela Baskervill found probable cause that “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors” at the request of Virginia Beach congressional candidate Tommy Altman and his attorney, Del. Tim Anderson.
Motions filed this week on behalf of Maas, Bloomsbury Publishing, Kobabe and Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group requested that both the petition and the show cause order be dismissed.
Barnes & Noble argued that the petition seeking an obscenity ruling for both books is “fatally defective under applicable constitutional standards.”
The petition highlights passages and pages from both books. However, according to Barnes & Noble and the authors and publishers, the books taken as a whole do not meet the criteria to be considered obscene under state and constitutional law.
Further, the major bookseller argues there is no provision under state law that authorizes the court to issue a ruling that would restrict children from accessing the books while allowing adults unrestricted access.
Besides responding to the allegations that the books are obscene, the publishers and authors looked to other legal routes to dismiss Altman’s petition.
Bloomsbury and Maas filed a joint plea noting that because “A Court of Mist and Fury” has been available in this jurisdiction since it was published more than six years ago, the petition should be barred. Oni-Lion Forge also included a similar argument in its motion.
In addition, the recent motions argued against Altman’s motion for a temporary restraining order which would prohibit “any person who sells, rents, lends, transports in interstate commerce, commercially distributes or exhibits the book, or has the book in his possession.” Oni-Lion Forge stated that there was no “good faith effort to identify ‘all persons’” and does not attempt to notify anyone the order might apply to, so restricting the sale of these books violates the booksellers’ rights to free speech and due process.
Altman said in a previous interview that the goal is to have the books, as well as other inappropriate content, treated like rated-R movies by requiring parental consent to purchase or check out of libraries.
“It’s not about book banning,” he had said. “It’s about restoring parental rights.”
On Friday afternoon, no hearings had been scheduled in the case.
Kelsey Kendall, email@example.com