Support for H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, continues to build. Ten additional members of Congress have recently become co-sponsors of the bill, which would remove a threat created by the USA Patriot Act to the privacy of bookstore and library records. The members join Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 65 other members of Congress.
The ten representatives new to the list of co-sponsors are: Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Bob Etheridge (D-NC), Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Zach Wamp (R-TN), and Henry Waxman (D-CA).
The Freedom to Read Protection Act would prevent the FBI from seeking "personally identifiable information concerning a patron of a bookseller or library." However, the government could still attempt to subpoena this information if it can make sufficient legal showing.
Said Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, "The rapid increase in the number of co-sponsors is very encouraging. In addition, we are seeing a spike in the amount of press coverage that the issue is getting. Hopefully, this will enable us to maintain our momentum, but it is crucial that booksellers continue to contact their representatives in the House, urging them to support H.R. 1157."
It is generally the case that a letter on store or personal letterhead carries more weight with a representative. Given the delays in U.S. postal deliveries to Washington, D.C., following the anthrax scare, letters are best sent by fax. E-mail can easily be sent to a Congress member through the Web site http://www.house.gov/writerep.