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(Ark.)—On Tuesday, a federal court issued a ruling on the controversial classroom censorship provision of the Arkansas’ LEARNS Act, Section 16. The court upheld student’s right to receive information and ideas and issued a partial injunction, prohibiting Arkansas from disciplining Ms. Ruthie Walls and Mr. Colton Gilbert, teachers and plaintiffs in the case, from simply teaching about Critical Race Theory (CRT), using CRT or parts of CRT to teach other topics, or referencing parts of CRT in their teachings.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Austin Porter Jr. filed an amended complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the state of Arkansas on behalf of Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP, two Little Rock teachers and two students attending the historic Central High School. The plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of Arkansas’ controversial classroom censorship law and the discriminatory treatment of students taking the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course in public schools. They have asked the federal court to enact a temporary injunction, preventing the law from being further enforced while the case is litigated.

The following is a statement from plaintiff attorney David Hinojosa, Director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“The court’s ruling makes it clear that students’ right to receive information and ideas was violated. Judge Rudofsky has issued a partial injunction ensuring that the state does not arbitrarily enforce the LEARNS Act against teachers in the case in a way that would unlawfully deny students their right to information. The court’s ruling has essentially gutted Arkansas’ classroom censorship law to render the law virtually meaningless. Governor Sanders and Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva had already walked back the law in their response briefing, stating that Critical Race Theory could be taught in Arkansas’ classrooms. Judge Rudofsky further narrows the scope of the LEARNS Act so that students won’t be forced to learn a false version of this country’s history of discrimination or continuing struggles with racial justice. The ruling should provide teachers greater comfort in teaching the truth, and challenging students to broaden their perspectives.”


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law–The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real.