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ALA delivers closing arguments in CIPA trial
American Library Association, April 4, 2002 -- Wrapping up seven days of testimony, American Library Association (ALA) attorneys today presented closing arguments in their legal challenge to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Attorney Paul Smith of Jenner and Block represented the ALA in closing; arguments from both sides lasted about three hours. The ALA legal case has centered on four main points:
  • Filters don’t work. Blocking technology restricts legal and useful information, while letting through illegal materials.
  • Because blocking technology pervasively and necessarily restricts legal information, CIPA is unconstitutional.
  • Libraries should not be forced to choose between funding and censorship. Library users, particularly those in poor and isolated communities, will be the losers in this equation.
  • CIPA abolishes local decision making. The bulk of library funding is local, and libraries are governed by local agencies that set policies and procedures at the community level. CIPA demands these institutions accept a federal mandate in return for vital technology funding.
  “There is much at stake in this case. Librarians play a unique role in our society: We bring people together with the information they need and want,” said ALA President John W. Berry. “Librarians do this by making sure libraries have information and ideas across the spectrum of social and political thought, so people can choose what they want to read or listen to or view. The CIPA mandates are counter to the mission of our public libraries.”
   CIPA and the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) were signed into law December 21, 2000. CIPA mandates the use of blocking technology for public libraries that seek Universal Service discounts (E-rate) for Internet access, Internet service or internal connections, or that seek Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds to purchase computers for Internet access or to pay for Internet access. The ALA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits challenging the law in March 2001. The cases were combined and heard by a three-judge panel made up of two district and one appellate court judge. People for the American Way is serving as supporting counsel for the ALA challenge. ACLU attorney Chris Hanson provided closing arguments on behalf of the Multnomah plaintiffs, and Rupa Bhattacharyya closed on behalf of the government.
   “We are fortunate to be in the Third Circuit Court, whose judges have confronted these issues before and are familiar with many of the interests at stake,” said Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “This morning, the judges asked probing and detailed questions in preparation for their deliberations.” The panel consists of Third Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward R. Becker, District Court Judge John P. Fullam and District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III.
  Proposed findings of fact and legal briefs are due to the court by April 11, and each of the parties will have one opportunity to respond to these findings and briefs by April 18. The judges will likely rule by early May so libraries will have time to prepare before E-rate and LSTA deadlines fall. The ALA will continue to post updates as they become available at

NEW (as of April 12, 2002) from CIPA's Litigation Page: Please continue to check for further updates. (PDF files will open in separate window. Adobe Acrobat Reader necessary, free download available)
Plaintiffs’ Joint Post-trial Brief (pdf; April 12, 2002)
Plaintiffs’ Table of Contents (pdf; April 12, 2002)
Plaintiffs’ Table of Authorities (pdf; April 12, 2002)


CIPA and School Libraries
Prepared by Jenner & Block, ALA Legal Counsel, September 2001 --
Why does the American Library Association believe that the Children's Internet Protection Act is unconstitutional?
  The filtering mandate imposed by Congress imposes restrictions on access to constitutionally protected speech on the patrons served by libra ries. Restrictions on access to speech in the library are antithetical to the mission of the library to provide patrons with unfettered access to all available and constitutionally protected speech.

Does the American Library Association believe the Act is unconstitutional in the school library context?
  Yes. The American Library Association believes strongly that the Children's Internet Protection Act is unconstitutional in both the context of the public library and the school library. The American Library Association remains firmly committed to supporting the school community and pledges to support any legal effort by school groups to challenge the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act in the school context.

Is the American Library Association currently challenging the Children's Internet Protection Act on behalf of school libraries?
  School libraries are not included as plaintiffs in the current legal suit, but ALA remains committed to assisting schools and school libraries in any efforts to challenge the legislation. The reason school libraries are not currently included is a technical/legal concept known as "legal standing."

What does the term "legal standing" mean?
  Courts require individuals or organizations to establish a direct injury to permit a legal suit. In order to challenge the Children's Internet Protection Act, an individual or organization must establish that they are the direct recipient of the federal funds at issue, a user of the entity required to filter or a content provider that will be blocked by filtering technology.

Why does the American Library Association lack legal standing to challenge the law on behalf of school libraries?
  The Children's Internet Protection Act mandates filtering and blocking technology for schools or public libraries that apply for e_rate discounts for Internet connections or specified funding under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for Internet use. School libraries are not the direct recipients of funds under these statutes, but rather receive funding through their individual schools. The school entities that apply, receive and oversee the federal funds at issue under these statutes are not members of the American Library Association. The school libraries that are members of the American Library Association do not function independently of the schools for purposes of funding under the statutes and, as a result, do not have legal standing.

Will the current CIPA litigation have any impact on school libraries?
  The CIPA litigation will not directly impact the obligation of school recipients to install technology protection measures if they accept the specified federal funds. School communities will, however, benefit in other ways. For example, the deadline for a fund recipient to decide whether to install filters has been delayed until next spring for both public libraries and schools after extensive negotiations between counsel for ALA and counsel for the government. Additionally, the factual record regarding the ineffectiveness of filters developed in the CIPA case will be useful to any school group that chooses to challenge the application of CIPA in the school context.

Will the American Library Association assist the school community to challenge the provisions of CIPA?
  The American Library Association strongly supports the school community. The American Library Association has pledged to lend its support to any legal effort by school groups challenging the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act in the school context.
copied from the American Libraries Association website, Children’s Internet Protection Act Frequently Asked Questions #3.