Library search-filtering lawsuit ends without appeal
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
WENATCHEE — A federal lawsuit against NCW’s library system over its online filtering practices won’t be appealed to a higher court.
Bradburn et al v. North Central Regional Library District, launched in 2006 under the auspices of the American Civil Liberties Union, ended April 10 with a U.S. District Court judge upholding the libraries’ right to filter some adult content on its public computers. The deadline for an appeal passed Thursday.
In a written statement Tuesday, the ACLU statewide office in Seattle said it chose not to carry the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth District.
“... The current facts in the case do not support an effective appeal,” the statement read. “We will continue to oppose filtering that censors constitutionally protected reading material for adults.”
The ACLU filed suit on behalf of Sarah Bradburn of Republic, Pearl Cherrington of Twisp and Charles Heinlen of Okanogan, all of whom said their rights were infringed by the libraries’ search filters. At the time, those filters blocked access to MySpace and YouTube, as well as sites with information about alcohol, dating, and tobacco. A co-plaintiff was the Second Amendment Foundation, a Bellevue nonprofit whose online magazine Women and Guns was blocked by the filters.
U.S. District Judge Edward Shea ruled April 10 that the filtering did not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, saying the practice “helps ensure that the environment at the NCRL libraries is consistent with its mission of providing learning and research opportunities for individuals of all ages.”
The 28-library system began in 2006 to modify its Internet filters, partly in response to the lawsuit. Wider searching is now allowed, but library filters still exclude sexually explicit content or gambling sites, among other categories.
“Public funds should not be used to provide free access to porn or illegal online casinos,” NCRL Director Dean Marney said in a press release. “Our libraries are sanctuaries for people of all ages where incredibly good things happen. That is worth fighting for. We did the right thing.”
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