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Status of Recent Cases

For more information, see Freedom to Read Foundation News | FTRF Reports to ALA Council | Current Litigation News (Media Coalition) | Legislative Updates (Media Coalition)

ABFFE v. Petro  (Ohio’s “Harmful to Juveniles” statute, formerly Bookfriends, Inc. v. Taft)
FTRF role: Plaintiff
Status: Pending. Preliminary injunction issued in 2002 to bar enforcement was appealed to Sixth Circuit; Ohio legislature amended statute in an effort to moot lawsuit; Sixth Circuit remanded case in June 2003. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 6, 2003. On September 27, 2004, the district court granted Plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion in part and overruled it in part, and indicated that an expanded opinion would be forthcoming. The parties are awaiting that decision.

ACLU of Florida v. Miami-Dade School Board (Vamos a Cuba book removal case; no link)
FTRF role: Amicus (PDF)
Status: Pending. After the Miami-Dade School Board voted to remove all copies of the book Vamos a Cuba and its English-language companion book A Visit to Cuba from its schools, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida joined with the families of Miami-Dade students and the Miami-Dade County Student Government Association to challenge the decision on First Amendment grounds. When the district court entered a preliminary injunction ordering the school district to immediately replace the entire series on library shelves, the Miami-Dade School Board appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing was held on June 6, 2007.

American Historical Association v. National Archives Records Administration (challenge to legality of Executive Order No. 13233)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Pending. After Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed NARA's suit in March 2004, plaintiffs asked for a reconsideration of her ruling. The judge ordered another round of briefing, and FTRF joined an amicus on November 30, 2005. The plaintiffs renewed their motion for summary judgment in January 2006. The motion remains pending before the court.

Beard v. Banks (the free speech rights of prisoners and their media correspondents)
FTRF role: Amicus [PDF]
Status: On June 28, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, reversing the Third Circuit's ruling that the prison regulation violated the First Amendment.

Chiras v. Miller (appeal of District Court decision allowing viewpoint discrimination in textbook selection)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: In December 2005, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit, agreeing that school boards may reject textbooks if they disagree with the author's viewpoint when such "viewpoint discrimination" is "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." The plaintiffs chose not to seek certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court..

Doe v. Gonzales. (Connecticut librarians' challenging receipt of National Security Letter (NSL)) FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Following the amending of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2006, the FBI dropped their attempt to maintain the gag order, and in June 2006 rescinded the NSL.

Doe v. Gonzales (Internet Service Provider challenge to National Security Letters provision of USA PATRIOT Act)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Victory in District Court, September 2004. Judge Victor Marrero struck down NSL statute and associated gag provision. Government appealed to Second Circuit Court of Appeals and FTRF submitted a second amicus brief. Following the March 2006 amendment of the NSL provision of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Second Circuit remanded the case to district court.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich (Illinois video game ban)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Victory. On November 27, 2006, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that Illinois's law banning the sale of video games with certain sexual content violated the First Amendment. The state previously chose not to appeal the district court ruling finding the Violent Video Games Law unconstitutional.

Entertainment Software Association v. Hatch (Minnesota video game ban)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Pending. On July 31, 2006, the district court judge permanently enjoined the law. The state then appealed to the Eighth Circuit, and on November 29, 2006, FTRF joined an amicus brief in support of the plainiffs.

Forensic Advisors, Inc. v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. (attempt to quash subpoena of private newsletter subscriber list)
FTRF role: Amicus [PDF]
Status: Dismissed. In 2007, the Maryland court declared Forensic Advisors' lawsuit moot after Matrixx dropped its Arizona suit against its anonymous critics. Previously, in 2006, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that Matrixx could go ahead with its deposition of Forensic Advisors, but also found that Forensic Advisors could assert a "news media privelege" with respect to certain information.

Gonzales v. ACLU (Child Online Protection Act or CDA II)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: On June 29, 2004, U.S. Supreme Court upheld preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the statute, but for the second time remanded case to the district court. Following a four-week trial, Judge Lowell Reed on March 22, 2007, found COPA unconstitutional, permanently enjoining it. Judge Reed's decision is likely to be appealed.

For a complete history of Gonzales v. ACLU (“Child Online Protection Act”), including court papers and a list of ACLU clients and the material they fear will be censored, visit the ACLU's Online Free Speech page.

Gorran v. Atkins Nutritionals is the appeal by a disgruntled former Atkins dieter of the ruling by Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York that dismissed his negligent misrepresentation, product liability, and state unfair competition claims.
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Pending. 

F TRF's brief in support of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., argues that First Amendment considerations protect the book Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution from personal injury claims.

Kaczynski v. United States ("Unabomber" archives)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: On July 21, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the federal government to sell Kaczynski's papers and to compensate the victims with the proceeds. Overall a positive decision.  Decision. [PDF] In January 2007, the New York Times reported that Kaczynski has expressed a desire to appeal the decision that approved the auction.

The King's English v. Shurtleff (Utah Internet censorship bill)
FTRF role: Plaintiff
Status: Pending. Complaint (PDF) filed June 9, 2005. On August 25, 2006, following the failure of the state legislature to amend the law, the court entered a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the law. In February 2007, the legislature adopted an amendment to the law, following which FTRF filed an amended complaint (PDF) on April 30, 2007.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers ("Friends" hostile environment suit)
FTRF role: Amicus [PDF]
Status: Victory. On April 20, 2006, the California Supreme Court dismissed the allegations of sexual harrassment, holding that the "creative necessity" test to judge the banter in the writers' room would harm the First Amendment.

Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor v. Ashcroft (facial challenge to Section 215 of USA PATRIOT Act)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: On October 2, 2006, the trial court denied the government's motion to dismiss and held that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the statute. On October 27, 2006, the ACLU withdrew its facial challenge to Section 215 citing the recent amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act.

Morse v. Frederick ("Bong Hits 4 Jesus" student free speech case)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Pending in U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments were held March 19, 2007.

Yahoo! v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L'Antisemitisme (LICRA)
FTRF role: Amicus
Status: Victory in District Court was reversed by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ninth Circuit granted Yahoo! a rehearing en banc, which was held on March 25, 2005. On January 12, 2006, the Ninth Circuit affirmed its decision.

The Media Coalition

Current Litigation News and Legislative Updates

The Freedom to Read Foundation is a member of The Media Coalition, and participates in much of the litigation discussed on its site. Contact FTRF for confirmation or clarification of our level of involvement in a particular case.

The Media Coalition is an association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and sell books, magazines, recordings, videotapes and video games; and defends the American public's First Amendment right to have access to the broadest possible range of opinion and entertainment.

The Media Coalition was founded in 1973. It represents most of the booksellers, publishers, librarians, periodical distributors, recording and video game manufacturers, and recording and video retailers in the United States.

Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Freedom to Read Foundation necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and FTRF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.

Related Files

The Kings English v Shurtleff (PDF File)
Vamos a Cuba Amicus Brief 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF File)
Gorran v. Atkins Amicus Brief (PDF File)
Beard v. Banks Amicus Brief (PDF File)
Second Circuit NLS amicus brief (PDF File)
Kaczynski Decision (PDF File)
FTRFs Virginia Supreme Court Brief (PDF File)

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“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.