Skip to comments.Fed court to reexamine library web filters
Posted on 10/07/2011 9:48:53 AM PDT by marktwain
RICHLAND Central Washingtons library system will head back to federal court Oct. 25 to further argue its filtering of public Internet access.
The hearing in Richland before U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea will consider motions left dangling after the Washington Supreme Court last year upheld the North Central Regional Library district practice of narrowly filtering Internet pages related to pornography and gambling.
The state courts 6-3 decision sided with the NCRL and its 28 branch libraries in a 2006 suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, representing three North Central Washington residents Sarah Bradburn of Republic, Pearl Cherrington of Twisp and Charles Heinlen of Okanogan and the Second Amendment Foundation. That gun rights lobbying group managed a magazine website, womenandguns.com, which was blocked by the librarys filters.
Also blocked were web pages about drug and alcohol addiction, an art gallery site, health information sites, the personals section of Craigslist.org, the MySpace pages of presidential candidates and the Seattle Womens Jazz Orchestra page.
The case was originally filed in federal court, which handed it off to the state Supreme Court for ruling on issues relating to free speech law under the state constitution. Some federal questions remain to be decided, including the plaintiffs claim that the state ruling abridges free speech under the U.S. Constitution.
One would expect the First Amendment to apply with special force in public libraries, Seattle plaintiffs attorney Duncan Manville wrote in a July 2010 brief.
The library systems response memo argued that the state ruling addressed all relevant constitutional questions, citing a 2003 case, United States v. American Library Association, which allowed Congress to require web filtering in many public schools and libraries.
Nothing in ALA or other federal First Amendment law warrants a different analysis and conclusion than that reached by the Bradburn court, the libraries argued in a brief by attorney Thomas D. Adams.
In a press release Thursday, library director Dean Marney said the NCRL has a responsibility to filter its online content appropriately.
Our mission is to promote reading and lifelong learning, Marney wrote. It is crazy to think that we should be required to use tax dollars to allow open access to Internet pornography or to become illegal casinos.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123
Womenandguns.com has nothing to do with pornography, but everything to do with the Constitutional right of women to have guns.
Here is the link to the Women & Guns magazine that was blocked. I notice that they have changed the name of the website to womenshooters.com:
True. But that doesn't justify blocking gun related sites.
Yeah, THAT'S certainly not a site name that's subject to any ambiguity. I bet they never get any visits based on a mistaken idea of what might be there.
On one side I don’t respect government censorship, in general.
On the other side I don’t think the government is required to supply anyone in particular a megaphone (the means to say [or hear/see] what they want in a particular venue); and I certainly don’t think the government owes pornographers a megaphone to reach their viewers with.
Therefore, I DO think the taxpayers - the government - can make decisions about how and for what purpose it’s facilities are used.
This does not “prevent” “free speech”, stop any publication of any kind, or prevent any particular “speech” from being presented (somewhere).
It simply does not provide a government supplied megaphone for it.
In my view the policy itself was not so much the error, as was its application; which requires a much narrower definition of “pornography” than was applied.
When it comes to “public” Libraries and our children, I am a supporter of some kind of “filters” used with respect to Internet browsing. “We The People” do not owe a pornography addict the establishment of a means to indulge in their addiction, much less any requirement it be provided to them in the presence of children.
The fact that the person may not have the means and the equipment to get to Internet pornography privately, does not determine that it is denial of “free speech” if the government does not provide that means.
Some would say the same could be held true for Internet gambling - it’s not our job.