Free Expression

18 Sep

Bookstores Get Set for Banned Books Week

In a week where librarians and Attorney General John Ashcroft battled over the controversial USA Patriot Act, and a Baldwin, Kansas, school district superintendent made news by pulling an award-winning book from a ninth-grade class, it seems only fitting that Banned Books Week kicks off this Saturday, September 20. Running through September 27, Banned Books Week is the national celebration of the First Amendment, and independent bookstores and others are doing their part to help commemorate the event.

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16 Sep

Sanders Named Library Journal's 2003 Politician of the Year

Citing his pioneering work to protect libraries and their patrons from the sweeping new powers given to federal agents by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the Library Journal has named Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) its 2003 "Politician of the Year." The Congressman was nominated by librarians from his home state and across the country and is featured on the cover of the magazine's September 15 issue.

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11 Sep

Boston Rally Protesting Patriot Act Features Local Bookseller

On Tuesday, September 9, an estimated 1,200 to 2,000 people gathered outside Boston's Faneuil Hall to voice their concerns about the USA Patriot Act. The gathering was in response to Attorney General John Ashcroft's stop in Boston during his nationwide tour to drum up support for the controversial act, which allows delayed notification of the execution of search warrants and authorizes no-knock searches of private residences, either physically or electronically.

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11 Sep

Independent Bookstores Celebrate First Amendment With ABFFE Fundraisers

As booksellers ready to celebrate Banned Books Week, which begins on September 20, some are putting money where their love of reading is, by sponsoring fundraisers for the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

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28 Aug

Appeals Court Affirms Vermont Internet Law Is Unconstitutional

On August 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York affirmed a Vermont federal district court decision holding a Vermont Internet law unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and the federal Commerce Clause. The law, which prohibited the distribution on the Internet of non-obscene sexually explicit materials that are defined as "harmful to minors" if they could be accessed by persons under 18, was found by the Court of Appeals to burden speech protected by the First Amendment and to not be narrowly tailored.

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28 Aug

Looking to Raise Patriot Act Support, Ashcroft Raises Only Questions

In a move that many believe was sparked by the overwhelming House vote to withhold funding for "sneak and peek" searches of private property under the USA Patriot Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft embarked on a nationwide tour last week to drum up support for the controversial bill. "I think it [the vote to limit sneak and peak searches] caught the Justice Department by surprise, as it did all of us," said Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

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27 Aug

Reading Your Rights Tackles Tattered Cover Case

This fall, a documentary on the well-publicized court case in which Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store fought to protect its customers' right to privacy will be shown on regional PBS stations and will be part of a free expression panel that will be held at three of the fall regional trade shows. The Just Media Fund, an organization that helps develop media that focuses on social justice issues, produced the 27-minute film, Reading Your Rights.

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20 Aug

Sanders' VT Congressional Town Meeting on Civil Liberties Positive and Hopeful

Left to right: Panelists Zachary Marcus, Trina Magi, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Edward Morrow, and Ben Scotch.

On Sunday, August 17, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored a Congressional Town Meeting on the "USA Patriot Act and Our Civil Liberties," co-hosted by the Northshire Bookstore of Manchester Center, Vermont.

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14 Aug

Rights and the New Reality

The following editorial appeared in the August 8 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Barring the Book Snoops

In December, a St. Louis library user whispered that a Middle Eastern-looking man using the public computers seemed suspicious. The librarian called the FBI, but the man left before agents arrived. In an effort to identify him, the agents asked for and got a thick stack of papers listing everyone who had used the library's computers in the previous week.

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06 Aug

Murkowski Introduces Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act

The support for amending the USA Patriot Act continues to grow. On July 31, the same day that Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) introduced The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act (S. 1507), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act (S.1552). Both bills would limit searches under the USA Patriot Act to the records of people who are foreign agents engaged in acts of espionage or terrorism.

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06 Aug

Co-sponsors for Freedom to Read Protection Act Now 129

The Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) continues to garner support within the House. All told, the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), now has 129 co-sponsors.

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05 Aug

First Amendment Support Returning to Pre-9/11 Levels, According to Study

What a difference a year makes. Last year, in the annual "State of the First Amendment" survey, which is conducted by the First Amendment Center in collaboration with American Journalism Review, 41 percent of Americans surveyed strongly agreed that the First Amendment went too far in the rights it guarantees. This year, that number fell to 19 percent.

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31 Jul

ABFFE Endorses Senate Bills Amending USA Patriot Act

At press time, it was announced that Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) had introduced The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act (S.1507) today, and, on Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would be introducing the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act. Both bills would limit searches under the Patriot Act to the records of people who are "foreign agents" engaged in acts of espionage or terrorism.

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The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

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