Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fed Court Proves Not Censorship to Block Porn from Public Library Computers; Dean Marney and North Central Regional Library Prove ACLU Wrong in Bradburn v. NCRL

Dean Marney
The jig is up for American Library Association [ALA]/American Civil Libraries Union [ACLU] excuses allowing pornography on public library computers.  You simply do not have the civil liberty nor the First Amendment right to view pornography on public library computers:
A federal judge has ruled that an Eastern Washington library system is not violating the state constitution by using filters to block internet porn on library computers. 
Judge Edward F. Shea, Eastern Washington Federal District Court, ruled in favor of the North Central Regional Library.  The case was brought against the rural eastern Washington library district by the ACLU of Seattle.  The ACLU accused the library district of having an overly broad filtering policy. 
The ruling followed a decision handed down from the Washington State Supreme Court in May, 2010.  The Supreme Court found that the North Central Regional Library, the largest library district in the State of Washington, did not violate Article 1, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution with its policy of filtering the internet. 
"Taxpayers are the winners in this case," said Library Director Dean Marney.  "Libraries should never be forced to use public funds to provide access to child pornography or to become illegal casinos.  Libraries should be sanctuaries for people of all ages." 
The NCRL, which represents 28 libraries in the central part of the state, has admitted the filtering policy puts them in the minority.  Other libraries have taken the stance of non-censorship, citing First Amendment rights.

Hey, it's legal!  Media, stop calling it "censorship."  It's not censorship.  The jig is up.  There is no First Amendment right to porn in public libraries.  Libraries know this, especially now, let alone since US v. ALA in 2003, so saying otherwise is simply and intentionally false.

Recall my previous writing on this topic:

Wanna join people stopping libraries from misleading their communities on porn in public libraries, etc.?  Join the Watchdogs!  Join the winners.


Excellent historical information on the Bradburn case from David Burt:
And some historical information from the ACLU of Washington State:
Another story on the current matter:


In the article above, I have added an updated link for the NCRL News Release.

Let me add that the case makes clear:

  1. A library may review a request for web access to ensure compliance with library policy,
  2. A library may legally deny access to constitutionally protected material if said material does not fall within library policy,
  3. It is not censorship to comply with the court's ruling and block constitutionally protected material from public libraries,
  4. Porn and gambling do not fall within library policy (at least at this particular group of libraries), 
  5. Other categories of constitutionally protected material may be legally blocked depending on the circumstances as the court did not restrict itself to only porn and gambling, and
  6. Any library or library association saying filtering porn violates the First Amendment or the Freedom of Speech is factually and legally incorrect(, and that library may be acting outside the law, and that library's town government has a duty to require a library to act within the law or it may be held legally responsible otherwise for harm caused by a failure to comply with the law).


Another interesting historical look at this case:




  1. Prediction: this goes to the Circuit Court with the claim that heightened scrutiny rather than rational scrutiny should have been used (because of Breyer's concurrence with the plurality in US v ALA), and that intentionally blocking constitutionally protected speech for adults does not further an important government interest.

  2. Garren, you may be correct. From what I have seen from the ACLU/ALA, they will stop at nothing to get what they want to force on communities. Heck even after losing in the US Supreme Court in US v. ALA, the ALA still circumvented the law by misleading a third of the nation's libraries, according to the law's very author, Ernest Istook: http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2012/02/cipa-author-exposes-ala-deception.html

  3. I hope the case is reviewed because greater clarity on the legal situation would be helpful to everyone involved. US v. ALA utterly shot down future attempts to classify library collections as public forums, but I still see significant murkiness in the remaining details of what the State may regulate and what librarians may choose to implement in their professional capacities.

  4. You may be interested to know I updated the original post with a note adding a link to a David Burt story on the topic where he has extensive background on this case.

  5. In the NCLR case, porn was used as a straw-man in the media. Pornography was not the issue, it was gun rights.
    What the decision amounts to is that libraries have the right to arbitrarily block material at their discretion, whether or not its against "community standards." (The NCLR is in rural eastern Washington, one of the best hunting areas in the state, not far from where I live and work at an adjacent library system.)
    It would be more honest if the media outlets covering the case would address that this was filed by both the Second Amendment Foundation and the ACLU, since the policy of the library attacks causes both organizations defend (freedom of information and gun rights.)
    It was a complete journalistic travesty that the editors even allowed the reporters to so distort this case.

  6. Interesting, Anonymous, I'll see if I can find out anything. In the meantime, I added a link to SAF in the main body of this blog post, in an added note. Further, I offer SAF a guest blog post on SafeLibraries if they wish. I've even left a message for SAF to call me.

    As to porn as the straw man, not exactly. Porn was involved, so it is not quite a straw man.

    But I get what you are saying about no reportage on the SAF issue. It's like the ALA just released another likely faked annual list of challenged books and not a single reporter asked a simple question--how many times where the books challenged. Such info would likely show book challenges are rare and the ALA manipulates the numbers to ride the latest wave--this year its The Hunger Games.

  7. The deal was that NCRL blocked a lot more categories early on, 'Weapons' and 'Drug Abuse' included. I would have complained too. One thing for a library to have a rule against stealing things, another to try to keep patrons from reading about theft.

    Details here:


    See, e.g., the PDF at "02/05/08 Plaintiffs issue statement of facts" page 15-17.

  8. Thanks for that, Garren, I'm going to look into this matter. Without having reviewed the library's policy recently, and without having examined the SAF web site, it seems to me blocking a web site advocating Second Amendment freedom may be problematic.

  9. Garren, Anonymous, Everyone,

    Thanks in part to the comments by Garren and Anonymous in this blog post, I have determined something that should make the news. Here's the scoop:

    SAF and all its related sites such as Women & Guns should be fully accessible at NCRL!

    1) SAF's political messages in support of the Second Amendment are not blocked by NCRL policy that specifies what may be blocked. Someone go check that SAF is not blocked. I suppose if it is, simply follow the procedures for unblocking; it should not stay blocked. Let us here know the results.

    2) According to legal documents, the SAF site never was blocked and never was intended to be blocked:

    According to "Defendant North Central Regional Library District's Statement of Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment" dated 4 February 2008, page 31:

    115. SAF is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. SAF maintains one of it publications, "Women & Guns," (www.womenandguns.com) is blocked by NCRL's Internet Filters. Id.

    116. SAF's spokesman testified he had no personal knowledge whether the web site was actually blocked, but that an SAF member (or members) reported that the site was unavailable on NCRL computer. Adams Decl. at Ex. A.

    117. SAF did not speak to NCRL staff or administrators about its concerns prior to filing suit. Marney Decl. at ¶47.

    118. NCRL did not have an opportunity to investigate or potentially remedy the concerns. Id. at ¶48.

    It appears SAF never was blocked, never was intended to be blocked, possibly never was blocked (except on hearsay), and is not now blocked! Have at it!

    To the extent I have helped in making that clear and announcing SAF sites may be freely viewed in the public library, even at NCRL, that really makes me feel terrific for helping protect true intellectual freedom. (Viewing porn on public library computers despite US v. ALA and Bradburn v. NCRL has nothing to do with "intellectual freedom").

  10. While you are at it how about safe homes.... There a number of really great flexible porn filters available such as cyber patrol or www.wisechoice.net

  11. If I understand the point Anonymous is making by saying "What the decision amounts to is that libraries have the right to arbitrarily block material at their discretion, whether or not its against "community standards," whether or not they were blocking the gun information site is kind of beside the point. They could legally block gun sites whenever they wanted to, if that were part of the library policy...

  12. I fail to see and/or understand the issue. Why does it matter if an adult is viewing adult material on a public library computer? A library if for the dissemination of ALL knowledge...not just what SOME ppl personally approve of.

    1. Good question, Anonymous. For an answer, please read United States vs. American Library Association.

      Also, pornography has nothing to do with "knowledge." Let's read how the Annoyed Librarian put it:

      The argument against Internet filters may have some technological weight, but it has no moral weight at all, which is why the ALA has done such a bad job of persuading Congress of the American right to salivate over Internet porn at the taxpayer's expense. An Internet filter for porn is just a technological version of the filter that librarians use when they don't subscribe to hard core porn magazines for their public library. It's called selection, and it requires judgment about what "information" is appropriate for a library. The ALA evades any debates about selection and judgment by classifying everything as "information" and then saying everyone should have access to all of it.

      "Library Porn Challenge," by Annoyed Librarian, Annoyed Librarian, 5 March 2007, emphasis added.


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