Litigation

ALA v. United States - June 23, 2003 Supreme Court Decision


May 31, 2002 CIPA Decision: Opinion of the Third Circuit Court, United States District Court for the Eastern District Of Pennsylvania

CIPA case goes to Supreme Court

The three-judge panel sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that "we are constrained to conclude that the library plaintiffs must prevail in their contention that CIPA requires them to violate the First Amendment rights of their patrons, and accordingly is facially invalid"; the three-judge panel ruled Sections 1712(a)(2) and 1721(b) of the Children's Internet Protection Act to be facially invalid under the First Amendment and permanently enjoined the government from enforcing those provisions.

According to a Jenner & Block memorandum dated June 18, 2002, the three-judge panel in the CIPA case held that the FCC and IMLS cannot withhold funds on the ground that a public library has failed to install mandatory filters on every computer. The Court held that "[b]ecause of the inherent limitations in filtering technology, public libraries can never comply with CIPA without blocking access to a substantial amount of speech that is both constitutionally protected and fails to meet even the filtering companies' own blocking criteria." While this decision is directly binding only on the agencies and is not a directive to any particular library, the factual findings and legal conclusions of the Court may serve as useful precedents for other lower courts. ALA thus urges any library using mandatory filtering software to consult with legal counsel to reevaluate their Internet Use Policy and assess the risk of future litigation.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, formally notified the Supreme Court on June 20 that it would appeal this ruling.


Briefs

In support of the American Library Association

CIPA before the Supreme Court

   ALA Briefs

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Brief of Appellees American Library Association, et al. United States of America, et al., Appellants, v. American Library Association, Inc., et al., Appellees. on Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
http://www.ala.org/cipa/meritsbrief.pdf

   ACLU Briefs

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Brief of Appelles Multnomah County Public Library, et al. United States of America et al., Appellants, -v- American Library Association, Inc., et al., Appellees. On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

   Government Briefs and Amicus Briefs

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At the Office of the Solicitor General 's site:

http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2002/3mer/2mer/2002-0361.mer.aa.pdf (Brief)

http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2002/3mer/2mer/2002-0361.mer.ja.vol.1.pdf

http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2002/3mer/2mer/2002-0361.mer.ja.vol.2.pdf

http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2002/3mer/2mer/2002-0361.mer.ja.vol.3.pdf (Joint Appendix, Vols. 1-3)