Seattle Community Network  >  Free Speech  >  Loudoun

Loudoun Library Filtering Suit

Brief Summary of Loudoun Case

Nov. 24, 1998 - A federal judge in Virginia decided yesterday that the Loudoun County Library's policy of filtering what adults can read on the Internet is an "unconstitutional prior restraint on speech." Judge Brinkema ruled that although the Library "is under no obligation to provide Internet access to its patrons, it has chosen to do so and is therefore restricted by the First Amendment in the limitations it is allowed to place on patron access."

"Defendant admits to having blocked The Safer Sex Page, the Books for Gay and Lesbian Teens/Youth page, and the Renaissance Transgender Association page, even though it recognizes that none of them contain prohibited material."

Representatives of all three sites were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with the ACLU. Other plaintiffs who alleged that the Library blocked their sites were the American Association of University Women of Maryland, Banned Books Online, The Ethical Spectacle, San Francisco Examiner columnist Rob Morse, and musician Sergio Arau.

Judge Brinkema ruled that forcing citizens to publicly petition the government for access to legal but disfavored speech has a severe chilling effect, and that "our finding that the Policy is unconstitutional on its face makes any consideration of the operation of X-Stop moot."

Judge Brinkema's Decision

Read the full text of Judge Brinkema's decision in the Loudoun County Library filtering case.

Plaintiffs' Web Sites