Friday, November 15, 2013

United States v. American Library Assn., Inc. case brief

United States v. American Library Assn., Inc. case brief summary
539 U.S. 194 (2003)

Appellee library associations and others challenged the constitutionality of the filtering provisions in the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), 114 Stat. 2763A-335. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that those provisions were facially invalid on the ground that they induced public libraries to violate patrons' First Amendment rights. Appellant United States and its agencies appealed.


  • A library's decision to use filtering software was a collection decision, not a restraint on private speech. 
  • A library's need to exercise judgment in making collection decisions depended on its traditional role in identifying suitable and worthwhile material; it was no less entitled to play that role when it collected material from the Internet than when it collected material from any other source. 
  • Because public libraries' use of Internet filtering software did not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights, the CIPA did not induce libraries to violate the U.S. Constitution, and was a valid exercise of Congress' spending power. 
  • Further, the CIPA did not impose an unconstitutional condition on public libraries. 
  • The funding programs were intended to help public libraries fulfill their traditional role of obtaining material of requisite and appropriate quality for educational and informational purposes. 
  • Congress could insist that these public funds be spent for the purposes for which they were authorized. 
  • A refusal to fund protected activity, without more, could not be equated with the imposition of a penalty on that activity.


The judgment of the district court was reversed.

No comments:

Post a Comment