It's a basic First Amendment principle: Once a public library provides a resource in its collection, it's up to the patron to decide how to use it – the library doesn't control what parts of the encyclopedia a patron can read after she takes it off the shelf, and it shouldn't try to tell users what parts of the Internet they can read when using library computers. Unless, apparently, you live in a federal district where the court is willing to invent a new legal standard in order to approve your local library's Internet censorship policy.
Earlier this week, a federal court in Washington state ignored clear Supreme Court precedent when it ruled in the case of Bradburn v. North Central Regional Library District that the NCRL's Internet filtering policy does not violate the First Amendment. That policy allows NCRL to deny adult patrons' requests for the unblocking of web sites, even when the content of those sites is constitutionally protected and legal for adults to receive. The court concluded with scant analysis that the NCRL's censorship was "reasonable" and therefore constitutional, creating in the process a new and alarmingly low legal standard out of whole cloth.
Read more »