Community Resolution for Westford, MA

July 14, 2005
Resolution on Patriot Act: Reaffirm Civil Liberties

WHEREAS:

Being elected Trustees of the J. V. Fletcher Library, we are instructed by our By-Laws (1990) to establish and implement policy that requires us to protect ""free expression and free access to ideas,"" and proclaim that ""the freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution;""

We hereby reaffirm the fundamental and unalienable civil liberties secured by the Constitution of Massachusetts and the U.S. Constitution for all people, including the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process of law;

Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act ({the Act"") and associated federal executive orders are assaults on these long-cherished civil liberties; and

As a great Massachusetts-born patriot, Benjamin Franklin, so well stated, ""They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.""

Accordingly:

We strongly protest those provisions (Sect. 215/218) in the Act of Congress called ""The Patriot Act"" (Oct. 25, 2001) which permit the Federal Government to seize and inspect the library's records of books our patrons have borrowed and of internet websites t hey have consulted. Especially as no patron may be informed of an investigation of his/her borrowing or internet records, the chilling effect of this Act is all the more destructive of free access to our library's resources.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that ""Congress shall make no law? abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press?"" The Supreme Court has ruled (381 U.S. 301, 1965) that this precious Amendment protects the right of access to what the press publishes, no less than it protects the right to publish. In Justice Brennan's words: ""It would be a barren marketplace of ideas that had only sellers and no buyers.""

The climate of fear has no place in a public library.

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