ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri Seeks Additional Information from Kansas Attorney General on CD Censorship

Affiliate: ACLU of Kansas
August 17, 2004 12:00 am

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TOPEKA, KS – In a letter submitted today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri called on Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to explain his decision to ban over 30 music CDs from Kansas libraries.

“Through his actions, Attorney General Kline usurped the authority of trained professional librarians across the state to make decisions about the content of their collections,” said Dick Kurtenbach, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. “Attorney General Kline is far removed from librarians in Hayes or Wichita or Kansas City, who strive every day to build collections that serve the needs of their various communities.”

In describing the process used to select CDs to be banned, Whitney Watson, a spokesperson for Kline’s office reportedly said, “We don’t have the manpower to look at every album and song lyric, but we feel we removed most of the albums that did not mesh with the values of a majority of Kansans.”

In its letter, the ACLU pointed out that the First Amendment does not permit a majority of Kansans to decide what materials a minority can obtain, nor does it permit an elected official to make that judgment on behalf of his constituents.

The CDs were given to the state as part of a settlement in a 2002 price-fixing lawsuit brought by Kansas and several other states. The ACLU letter specifically requested a copy of the settlement agreement, a complete list of the CDs that were to be distributed, a list of the banned CDs and an explanation of the criteria Kline’s office used to evaluate the CDs.

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