ACLU files lawsuit against town over Harry Potter dispute

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | 7:29 p.m. CDT; updated 10:33 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

ST. LOUIS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the city of Poplar Bluff after a library worker claims she was disciplined for failing to work at an event to promote a Harry Potter book.

Anthony Rothert with the ACLU in St. Louis says the woman, Deborah Smith, is a Southern Baptist who believes the Harry Potter series popularizes witchcraft and the practice of the occult.

He says she was suspended without pay for 10 days when she refused to work at a library event on July 21 for the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” He says Smith, who has a pacemaker, was given arduous tasks after returning from suspension, like emptying out a book drop-off box. She quit on her doctor’s recommendation.

He says the lawsuit filed in federal court in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday alleges violations of her civil and First Amendment rights and seeks unspecified damages. There was no immediate response from Poplar Bluff’s attorney.

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