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Senate Bill 1289 — Libraries, harmful materials

Senate Bill 1289 — Libraries, harmful materials

Parrish Miller
February 12, 2024

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1289 would create a complicated and arduous process for parents seeking to protect their children from being exposed to pornographic content in public schools and libraries. 

Rating: -2

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

Under Idaho law, it is a crime for almost anyone to provide pornographic content to children. Inexplicably, the law contains a carve-out that allows schools and libraries to make obscene content available to children. 

There have been numerous attempts to solve this ongoing problem through legislation, but these efforts have been met with fierce resistance from the American Library Association headed by a self-identified "Marxist lesbian," avowed satanists, and Idaho's governor.

Earlier this session, House Bill 384 was introduced, which would fall short of fully repealing this incomprehensible carve-out. It would make some headway toward curbing the widespread dissemination of obscene materials by schools and libraries. 

Senate Bill 1289 was introduced as a replacement, but it fails to address the underlying problems. In some ways, it makes matters worse. The bill would create Section 18-1517B, Idaho Code, which would instruct libraries to adopt "policies and procedures to process requests for relocation of library materials that may be harmful to minors, as that term is defined in section 18-1514 6.(a), Idaho Code." 

It is important to note the limitation to subsection (a) here because the definition of harmful to minors — the definition used to criminalize dissemination by anyone outside of a school or library — includes a subsection (b) as well. Subsection (b) says "The quality of any material or of any performance, or of any description or representation, in whatever form, which, as a whole, has the dominant effect of substantially arousing sexual desires in persons under the age of eighteen (18) years."

This bill would codify the idea that materials falling under the above definition should be made available to children even though they are legally recognized by Idaho statute as being "harmful to minors."


Under the process contained in Senate Bill 1289, parents or guardians who discover obscene content in a library and wish to protect their children must file a "properly completed review request form" with the "library materials review committee" requesting to "relocate" the obscene materials that are already legally defined as "harmful to minors." 

This "library materials review committee" will be formed by library personnel and may include "members of the library's governing board." To provide a token of objectivity, the committee includes one member who is the parent of a minor. Someone who has children and is a member of the governing board could fulfill the requirement, defeating the idea of having an outsider serve on the committee. 

If the parent or guardian successfully jumps through all the hoops required to get a hearing, the committee is instructed to provide a "reasoned decision in writing regarding the library materials in question and the relevant statutory requirements, library policies, and community standards used in making its decision." 

The bill says, however, that the "statutory requirements" referenced in the above paragraph only apply to "section 18-1514 6.(a), Idaho Code,” not to section 18-1514 6.(b) as discussed above. 

If the parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the review committee's decision, the parent or guardian's only option is to "appeal to the library's or school's board of trustees within seven (7) days of the final decision by the review committee." The parent or guardian must "identify in writing the specific deficiencies in the committee's decision for which appeal is sought."

If the parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the library's or school's board of trustees' decision, the parent or guardian can "within seven (7) days after all remedies pursuant to the library's policies and the provisions of this section have been exhausted, seek judicial review as provided by chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code."

The parent who goes through this entire process and prevails in court may recover $250 in statutory damages "as well as actual damages and any other relief available by law, including but not limited to injunctive relief sufficient to prevent the defendant library from violating the requirements of this section."

The complicated and arduous process created by this bill would be overseen by the very entities who are actively fighting to disseminate the obscene content this bill is supposedly intended to address. This bill also fails to clarify what the "relocation" process would entail and if it would be sufficient to prevent minors from accessing the materials. Presumably, these details would be left up to each library to determine its "policies and procedures." 

Another important thing to understand is that where this bill addresses schools, its provisions are limited to "a library operated by" a "public school district or charter school providing instruction for students in kindergarten through grade 12." This bill would not apply to nonpublic schools, and it does not appear to apply to materials made available by teachers in the classroom that are not contained in the school's library. 

Additionally, it is illogical to ask parents or guardians of schoolchildren to request the "relocation" of materials that are legally defined as "harmful to minors" in a K-12 school library. Such libraries only serve minors and thus should have no "adult" section to which obscene materials could be relocated. 


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