Must taxpayers fund online pornography in public libraries? The Supreme Court considered that question last week in a case that challenges the right of Congress to require public libraries to install filtering software if they receive federal money for Internet resources.
Congress in 2000 passed the Children's Internet Protection Act requiring such software, but the law has never been enforced. The ACLU, the American Library Association, and others immediately screamed "censorship," arguing that library patrons have a First Amendment right to unrestricted Web access provided by taxpayers. A three-judge federal panel in Pennsylvania sided with the challengers last year. The Supreme Court will rule in the case before July.
Since 1999, libraries have accepted $1 billion from the taxpayers while fighting their wishes. Over 14 million Americans use public library computers for research or surfing the Internet.