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Bills, Laws, and Changes

Not just South Carolina (or Florida or Texas); seemingly part of a national effort to “save the children”/push back against the “woke agenda”

Current State House bills sponsored by the SC Freedom Caucus

Potentially affects libraries and museums (and their workers)

Potentially affects colleges and universities (and their workers): course materials, reading/viewing assignments, performances, film showings, lectures, et al.

Title 16 – Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 3 – Offenses Against Morality and Decency
Article 3 – Obscenity, Material Harmful to Minors, Child Exploitation, and Child Prostitution
Section 16-15-305 (H3706) – Disseminating, procuring, or promoting obscenity unlawful; definitions, penalties; obscene material designated contraband
Section 16-15-375 (H3826) – Definitions applicable to Sections 16-15-385 through 16-15-425
Section 16-15-385 (H3826) – Disseminating harmful material to minors and exhibiting harmful performance to minor defined, defenses, penalties

SC H3826 & S0506: Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act

Changes state obscenity laws (16-15-375 and 16-15-385) and what is considered “harmful to minors”

Substantially changes state version of Miller Test

Miller Test = Primary legal test for determining whether expression constitutes obscenity (Miller v. California, 1973)

Whether the average person applying contemporary community standards would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest

Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law

Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value


SC H3706: Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act

Amends the law (16-15-305) to prohibit advertising and promoting anything deemed obscene

Defines the term “profane language”

Miller Test impact: Parts of materials or performances can be considered obscene, not just the whole


Changes to Miller Test

Replaces “taken as a whole” with “any part”

Removes exemption for materials or performances with “literary, artistic, or political value”; scientific value only

As a result, undermines U.S. Supreme Court precedent


Additional Changes

Adds definition for “profane language”

“…language or gestures communicated in any form or manner that, in context, depict or describe sexual or excretory organs or activities in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards”

Removes exemption of materials that “[consist] entirely of written words”

Removes exemption for museum, public, school, college, or university libraries and their employees, i.e., their employees can be liable for dissemination of materials harmful to minors

SC H3827/S0424
SC Integrity in Education Act

Provide students in state-funded places of learning with an education focused on excellence and integrity

Equip students to think independently and critically

Support educators by maintaining a learning and work environment unencumbered by social or political activism

Treat students and employees of schools with dignity as unique individuals without stereotyping or scapegoating

Provide instruction free from ideological indoctrination or coercion

Foster and defend intellectual inquiry and freedom of speech as well as freedom from compelled speech


Protect the privacy and innocence of children and guard them against obscene and mature materials

Respect the rights of parents as their child's decision-makers for health and well-being, including emotional and sexual development

Defer to parents as their child's primary source of moral and social values

Allow parents to opt out of activities that violate this act

Establish a clear protocol for reporting violations and allowing local entities to address and correct issues

 Require privacy and nondisclosure during the investigation process

Require clear distinctions between the teaching of theory and fact

Require full transparency of curricula

Bills have been referred to legislative committees

H3826 – House Committee on Judiciary (01/26/2023)

S0506 – Senate Committee on Judiciary (02/08/2023)

H3706 – House Committee on Judiciary (01/17/2023)

H3827 – House Committee on Education & Public Works (01/26/2023)

S0424 – Senate Committee on Education (01/19/2023)

The Judiciary Committee may be the best place for consideration of H3286 and H3706


Use LegiScan and copy/paste the bill number into the search area on the left side of the page.


Concerns over H3826 & H3706

Very broad, open to expansive interpretation, unintended consequences

Expands state government’s role in local decision-making

Applies to any portion of a work or performance (one word, one image, one gesture)

Undermines U.S. Supreme Court precedent

Potential criminalization of intellectual and academic freedom

Risk of felony conviction for library (and university) workers

A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both

Contradicts core values of librarianship


More Concerns:

Colleges and universities can have minors (dual enrollment students, Scholars Academy, undergraduates who are younger than 18)

Could affect what we buy, what we subscribe to, what we borrow, what we lend, what we discplay

Core Values

Library Bill of Rights (portion), Amendments, and Interpretations


  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.  Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.  Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in fulfillment of their responsibility to provide informaiton and enlightenment.

 “The right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment” (American Library Association)

 “The First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression encompasses intellectual freedom, which includes an individual’s right to receive information on a wide range of topics from a variety of viewpoints” (First Amendment Encyclopedia)

“The conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment” (American Library Association)

Not acting “in loco parentis” (in place of parents)

“Recognizing that libraries cannot act in loco parentis, policies which set minimum age limits for access to videotapes and/or audiovisual material and equipment with or without parental permission abridge library use for minors. Nevertheless, ALA acknowledges and supports the exercise by parents of their responsibility to guide their own children's viewing, using published reviews of films and videotapes and/or reference works which provide information about the content, subject matter, and recommended audiences.” (American Library Association, 53.1.13)

Freedom to Read

Freedom to View

Advocate - Who to Contact

Stay informed

Become a SC Library Advocate and sign up for legislative alerts

Participate in campus education efforts

Consider contacting local, state, or national organizations representing your discipline, e.g., South Carolina Section of ACS



South Carolina Association of School Libraries (SCASL)

Very active; has met with relevant legislative committees

In contact with American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom and Public Policy & Advocacy Office

ALA concern over negative reaction to national organization involved in state legislation


South Carolina Library Association (SCLA)

Organization does not have a lobbyist or a strong administrative staff

Librarians & staff do most of the work

Complications for libraries/library workers that receive state funding

Has an active Advocacy Committee with USC Upstate representation

In communication with ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom and Public Policy & Advocacy Office

SCLA has contacted members of the House Judiciary Committee

Messaging campaign to be instituted if bills move out of committee to legislative calendar

Limited discussion among officers of College & University Section, SCLA


USC System Faculty Leadership Council

USC Upstate Library representation

Discussion with U of SC lobbyist

Library dean-to-dean discussions

Have spoken with my counterpart at Wofford College; sharing ideas, information, and approaches

Further outreach planned to Converse, Furman, SCC, Lander, Greenville Tech, et al.

Upstate members only:

John Richard C. King (D), York, District 49

Jason Elliott (R), Greenville, District 22

Brandon Guffey (R), York, District 48

Rosalyn D. Henderson-Myers (D), Spartanburg, District 31

John R. McCravy III (R), Greenwood, District 13

Travis A. Moore (R), Spartanburg, District 33

Upstate members only

Wes Climer (R), York, District 15

Rex F. Rice (R), Pickens, District 2 (Bill sponsor)

Scott Talley (R), Spartanburg, District 12

Josh Kimbrell (R), Spartanburg, District 11 (Bill sponsor)

Richard J. Cash (R), Anderson, District 3

Dwight Loftis (R), Greenville, District 6

Billy Garrett (R), McCormick (includes Abbeville, Greenwood, and Saluda counties), District 10

Michael Johnson (R), York, District 16 (Bill sponsor)

Copyright Notice

Taken from the Powerpoint Presentation titled "While I Breathe, I Hope ...  You Won't Convict Me of a Felony for Disseminating Obscene Materials" created by John Barnett, Dean of the University of South Carolina Upstate Library on February 24, 2023 - CC BY-SA 4.0 International


Thanks to the following for their review and insights of the original presentation

Virginia Cononie, Coordinator of Reference and Research, USC Upstate Library

Jonathan Newton, Coordinator of Access Services and Library Technology, USC Upstate Library, and Co-Chair, Advocacy Committee SCLA

Lisa Roberts, Dean of the Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford Coillege



Academic Freedom,” American Library Association

The Freedom to Read Statement,” American Library Association

The Freedom to View Statement,” American Library Association

Intellectual Freedom: Issues and Resources,” American Library Association

Libraries and Intellectual Freedom,” The First Amendment Encyclopedia

The Library Bill of Rights,” American Library Association

The Miller Test,” The First Amendment Encyclopedia

Monitoring State Legislation that Criminalizes Libraries, Schools, and Museums 2023,” EveryLibrary Institute

Policy Brief: Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Librarianship through State Obscenity Laws,” EveryLibrary Institute

Right to Receive Information and Ideas,” The First Amendment Encyclopedia

SC H3706, A bill to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by enacting the “Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act” …, South Carolina Legislature

SC H3826, A bill to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by enacting the “Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act” …, South Carolina Legislature

SC H3827, A bill to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by adding Section 59-29-12 …, South Carolina Legislature

SC S0424, A bill to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by adding Section 59-29-12 …, South Carolina Legislature

SC S0506, A bill to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by enacting the “Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act” …, South Carolina Legislature

South Carolina House Conservatives Form Own Freedom Caucus,” Associated Press, April 20, 2022

South Carolina Legislature (includes bill search, legislator search)

Title 16, Chapter 15, Article 3 , Sections 16-15-305, 16-15-375, 16-15-385, South Carolina Code of Laws Unannotated