Magazine article American Libraries

Supreme Court Hears ALA'S Challenge to CIPA. (News Fronts Washington)

Magazine article American Libraries

Supreme Court Hears ALA'S Challenge to CIPA. (News Fronts Washington)

Article excerpt

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments March 5 on the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act. The law was overturned last year by a three-judge panel in Philadelphia because it forces public libraries that accept federal funds to filter Internet access for all users, even though its stated aim is to shield only minors from sexually explicit content (AL, Aug. 2002, p. 18).

Representing the American Library Association and other groups challenging the law, attorney Paul M. Smith told the justices that filters violate the First Amendment because they erroneously block tens of thousands of nonpornographic Web sites that include useful information.

"When a library buys books, it chooses the books one by one," Smith said. However, the Internet contains "all the content ever created under the sun," and to require libraries to selectively deny access would be "the end of the public forum doctrine," he argued, according to the March 6 New York Times.

Defending the law, Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson argued that filtering out Web sites is no different than declining to purchase books for a collection. …

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