ALA President Jim Rettig releases statement on federal appeals court ruling on NSL “Gag Order”

Contact: Deborah Caldwell Stone

Deputy Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

(312) 280-4224


For Immediate Release

December 16, 2008

(CHICAGO) American Library Association President Jim Rettig released the following statement regarding a federal appeals court ruling made Monday in New York that upheld portions of a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act preventing National Security Letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret demands for individuals' records.

Rettig said, “The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its opinion in
John Doe, et al. v. Mukasey, the lawsuit challenging the FBI's use of National Security Letters (NSLs) on constitutional grounds.

“The American Library Association (ALA) welcomes the court's decision to protect our First Amendment freedoms by placing reasonable limitations on the FBI's ability to impose a gag order when issuing National Security Letters. We also welcome the court's decision requiring meaningful judicial review when an NSL gag order is challenged.

“The court's order, however, does not address the constitutionality of the FBI's use of NSLs to obtain an individual's personal data, and we remain concerned about the FBI's use and abuse of NSLs, as documented by the Department of Justice's Inspector General."

The Freedom to Read Foundation and the American Library Association participated in the litigation as amicus curiae, filing briefs urging the Second Circuit to uphold the District Court's decision and preserve First Amendment rights.

The full court opinion is available online at the website maintained by the Second Circuit at .


If you would like more information, here is the link to the ACLU's statement:

Also, here are links to the ALA's NSL resolution and the accompanying press release: