ACLU Optimistic That Supreme Court Will Reject Law Mandating Internet Censorship in Libraries

November 12, 2002 12:00 am

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NEW YORK–The American Civil Liberties Union said today that it was optimistic about its challenge to a library Internet censorship law after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The so-called Children’s Internet Protection Act ties crucial library funding to the mandated use of blocking programs on Internet terminals in public libraries. The ACLU challenged the law on behalf of libraries, library patrons, and web publishers around the country.

“The lower court described in detail just how flawed these Internet blocking programs are,” said Ann Beeson, Litigation Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program. “We are optimistic that the Supreme Court will agree that the government cannot force adults to use technology that routinely blocks access to a wide range of valuable web sites.”

In May, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia struck down the law, which was passed in December 2000, saying that it would force libraries to censor constitutionally protected online speech by adults as well as children. Under a special provision of the law, the government appealed the decision directly to the Supreme Court.

Beeson said the next stage in the case would be the submission of briefs to the Supreme Court this coming winter, with oral arguments likely to be set for next spring. The government’s brief is due in 45 days, on December 27, 2002, with the ACLU’s briefs due a month later, on January 27, 2003.

A wide spectrum of organizations have opposed blocking software mandates, including the American Library Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the conservative Free Congress Foundation and state chapters of the Eagle Forum and the American Family Association.

More information on the case is available online at /node/22529

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