ACLU Letter to Congress Urging Support of the Sanders-Paul Amendment or the "Freedom to Read" Amendment, Which Would Help Restore the Privacy and First Amendment Rights of Library and Bookstore Patrons

ACLU Letter to Congress Urging Support of the Sanders-Paul Amendment or the "Freedom to Read" Amendment, Which Would Help Restore the Privacy and First Amendment Rights of Library and Bookstore Patrons

Re:      Support Freedom to Read Amendment!

Dear Member of Congress:

We are writing to ask that you support an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations Bill of 2005, being offered by Reps. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Paul (R-TX) which would help restore the privacy and First Amendment rights of library and bookstore patrons.

With the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI gained the unprecedented power to search libraries and book-buying records without probable cause of any crime or intent to commit a crime.  Furthermore, librarians and others who are required to turn over records are barred from informing anyone that the search has occurred or that records were given to the government.  This means that average Americans could have their privacy violated wholesale without justification or proper judicial oversight.  

The Sanders-Paul Amendment would prohibit the expenditure of funds for an order under section 215 of the Act, which authorized the new power, if directed at a library or bookstore.  This amendment would allow the FBI to follow normal procedures already in current law to obtain warrants and retrieve records from libraries or bookstores for terrorist related or criminal investigations.

Librarians and booksellers want to protect Americans from terrorist attacks but at the same time, they must protect the right of every citizen to read, learn, and purchase books without undue government interference.  

We urge you to support the Sanders-Paul Amendment to the 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations Bill to be considered on the floor this week.


Sincerely, 

Laura W. Murphy
Director, Washington National Office   

Timothy Edgar
Legislative Counsel
           

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