Tags: Internet | Ruling | Means | 'Taxpayers | Fund | Smut | '

Internet Ruling Means 'Taxpayers Fund Smut,' Conservatives Say

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM

In their decision, a three-judge panel from the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) went too far because the filtering technology also blocks access to Web sites containing protected speech.

The law would have required public libraries to install the filters or risk losing federal funding starting July 1. It was approved by Congress in December 2000 as part of a federal government appropriations measure and later signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton.

American Library Association (ALA) immediately hailed the decision.

"We are ecstatic. We have been completely vindicated. The judges agreed with us that CIPA went too far. It's a clear violation of the First Amendment," ALA spokeswoman Emily Sheketoff said.

"They recognized our concern for library patrons and the possibility of their embarrassment if forced to go to a librarian to have the filtering dismantled."

The judges, Sheketoff believes, "recognized, as all of our experts said, this technology cannot do what the law wanted it to do."

A spokesman for People For the American Way Foundation called the ruling a victory for the American people.

"It decided that adults and families and not the government should decide what people can read in a public library. Filters both over-block and under-block a substantial amount of constitutionally protected and valuable material that adults as well as minors should be able to read," foundation spokesman Larry Ottinger said.

"This is a victory for all people that believe in basic liberty. We have a right as a people to decide what we are going to read in a public library and that the government doesn't get to tell us what we can read. We think the decision is a victory for all Americans," Ottinger said.

Justice Department attorneys defended the law, arguing that because Internet pornography is so pervasive, protections are necessary to keep it away from youngsters.

The department, according to spokesman Charles Miller, is reviewing the decision. He would not comment further.

An appeal of the circuit court ruling would send the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The conservative group Concerned Women For America said it hoped the Supreme Court would reverse the lower court's ruling; otherwise Friday's decision means "taxpayers fund smut in public libraries."

"Congress enacted the CIPA so that federal tax dollars wouldn't be used to turn libraries into dirty peep shows open to kids," said Jan LaRue of CWA.

"If the federal government doesn't have to subsidize porn in a military PX, it shouldn't have to subsidize it in a public library. Porn has never been required in library stacks, so why should it be required via library Internet access?" she said.

The Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of Traditional Values Coalition, was angry about the ruling.

"The courts are continuing to be the great adversary of what is moral and what is decent in America," Sheldon told CNSNews.com.

Colby May, an attorney with American Center for Law and Justice, said his group was "disappointed but, unfortunately, not surprised," by Friday's decision.

"Families recognize that there is a problem here but that, gee, golly, Congress just quite hasn't got it right, yet," May said. "Certainly, it will be appealed. It will go up to the Supreme Court."

Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., who sponsored the act in House, was also not surprised at the ruling.

"The ACLU and the ALA selected one of the most liberal and porn-friendly court venues in the federal court system to file this legal challenge," he said in a statement.

"It is appalling to read in their decision that this court believes that the use of Internet filtering technology to block children's access to pornography while at federally subsidized computers serves no legitimate government interest," Pickering added.

"It is quite evident that this court is out of touch with the vast majority of Americans and the law."

But Pickering is confident that the case will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and that the law will be upheld by the high court.

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In their decision, a three-judge panel from the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) went too far because the filtering technology also blocks access to Web sites containing protected speech. The law would...
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2002-00-31
Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM
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