Supreme Court supports library computer filters
- The following article, attributred to Tini Locy and Joan Biskupic of USA
Today, appeared on page A3 of the Tuesday, June 24, 2003 edition of The
Arizona Republic. Whatever one thinks of pornography, the real danger of
this ruling is that filters could be used to censor other things as well,
such as sites the government considers to be subversive.
PORN BLOCKS TIED TO FUNDING OK
Washington--Congress can require public libraries that get federal funding
to install computer filters that block access to Internet pornography, the
Supreme Court ruled Monday.
In a 6-3 decision, the high court said that by attaching such a condition
to funding, Congress is not forcing libraries to violate their patrons' First
The ruling is a victory for parents who worry about the availability of
pornography online and use of the Internet by child predators. It also is
the first time in three attempts that Congress has prevailed in its efforts
since 1996 to shield children from sexually explicit materials online.
Previously, the high court rejected a law that made it a crime to send
indecent messages online to anyone under 18 and a statute banning "virtual"
This time, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority, Congress
legitimately tied its efforts to millions of dollars in federal funding for
libraries. "Congress has wide latitude ot attach conditions to the receipt
of federal assistance in order to further its policy objectives," he wrote.
Siding with Rehnquist were Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and
Clarence Thomas. Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer joined the
majority but said adults should be able to ask librarians to disable the
The dissenters were Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul