Bernadette Murphy, Washington Communications Director
(202) 628-8410 ext. 8236
For Immediate Release
September 9, 2005
ALA applauds decision in library PATRIOT case
Statement from American Library Association Immediate Past President Carol Brey-Casiano on the Bridgeport, CT court’s decision that the non-disclosure order in ACLU v. Gonzales violates the First Amendment of the Constitution:
“The American Library Association is pleased that the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., has ruled that the gag order in ACLU v. Gonzales violates the First Amendment. Calling John Doe’s inability to speak out on National Security Letters “a real and present loss of its First Amendment right to free speech that cannot be remedied,” Judge Janet C. Hall highlighted the importance of John Doe’s ability to participate in the public debate about the USA PATRIOT Act.
Judge Hall has stayed her decision until September 20, 2005 in order to give the government an opportunity to appeal the decision. If the government does not appeal, John Doe will be allowed to speak on September 21, permitting both Congress and the public to hear for the first time the experience of a librarian served with a National Security Letter demanding a library patron's records. Doe's testimony is critical at a time when Congress is discussing USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization legislation.
Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that allow the government easy access to library reading records have attracted an enormous amount of protest from librarians, civil libertarians, and the American public. Close to 400 communities in the United States have passed resolutions protesting provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
We are glad that the Plaintiff was brave enough to come forward, at personal risk, to share his story. We thank the ACLU for taking the Plaintiff’s case and fighting to ensure that all voices are heard in this important debate.”