Obscenity Case Seeking to Bar Barnes & Noble From Selling Two Books to Minors Dismissed by Judge


A Virginia Beach Circuit Court judge on Tuesday dismissed an effort to declare two books obscene and unfit for children.

Judge Pamela Baskervill found that “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas are not obscene under state law. In the process, she also raised concerns about due process by not providing notice to all parties which could be impacted by a ruling in the case.

“We’re gratified with the ruling,” Robert Corn-Revere, an attorney for Barnes & Noble, said.

Former Congressional candidate Tommy Altman, and his attorney, state Del. Tim Anderson, said they are considering whether to appeal the ruling. Anderson also said he may sponsor legislation in the General Assembly related to this matter.

“At the end of the day, Mr. Anderson and I will always commit to protecting children and restoring parental rights,” Altman said.

Before the hearing, Anderson withdrew a request for temporary restraining order that would have prevented book sellers, including Barnes & Noble, from selling the books to minors. This led to the Virginia Beach School Board’s motion to dismiss the case was “moot.”

During the hearing, Anderson argued that there should be different standards of obscenity for children and adults. However, the judge found that the court is unable to make that determination under the Virginia Code.

In early May, Judge Pamela Baskervill supported the petition, finding that the books could be “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors,” and ordered the authors and publishers to defend their works. In the judge’s final order, it stated that this order was “made on an incomplete record,” so it was vacated Tuesday.

In the months leading up to the hearing, court filings from the authors, publishers, Barnes & Noble and advocacy groups argued in support of the books. They argued that the books are protected by the First Amendment. This was largely reiterated in Tuesday’s hearing.