To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402050_text

(Jun 15, 2010) The Supreme Court of Washington, in a ruling issued on May 6, 2010, has held that a library district does not violate the state's constitutional right of free speech by filtering Internet content on its public access computers and declining to disable the filter upon request to allow adult patrons to access websites containing constitutionally protected speech.

Several plaintiffs brought an action in federal court against a Washington public library district for its policy of using content-filtering software on its public access computers without providing for disabling the filter upon request, claiming it violated state constitutional free speech guarantees. The federal court asked the Supreme Court of Washington to address the state constitutional law question.

The court analogized the filtering policy to a library's collection development policy, to which courts generally apply wide discretion, given traditional library concerns of limited money and space. The court held that just as libraries do not collect all constitutionally protected publications, they are not obligated to provide complete access to the Internet.

A dissenting opinion disagreed with the majority's collection analogy, countering that the policy was more like refusing to circulate a book in the collection because of its content, which would be unconstitutional. (Bradburn v. N. Cent. Reg'l Library Dist., No. 82200-0 (Wash. May 6, 2009), available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/822000.opn.pdf (majority opinion); http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/822000.co1.pdf (concurring opinion); http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/822000.no1.pdf (dissenting opinion).)

Author: John Cannan More by this author
Topic: Freedom of speech More on this topic
Jurisdiction: United States More about this jurisdiction

Search Legal News
Find legal news by topic, country, keyword, date, or author.

Global Legal Monitor RSS
Get the Global Legal Monitor delivered to your inbox. Sign up for RSS service.

The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from the Global Legal Information Network, official national legal publications, and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the GLM.

Last updated: 06/15/2010