Support for H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, continues to grow. In the last week, seven more members of Congress became co-sponsors of the bill, which would remove a threat created by the USA Patriot Act to the privacy of bookstore and library records. They join Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 58 other members of Congress.
The seven representatives that just joined as co-sponsors are: Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jerry F. Costello (D-IL); Alcee Hastings (D-FL); Michael Ho nda (D-CA); Bill Pascrell (D-NJ); Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY); and John Tierney (D-MA).
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.
To see a full list of the bill's sponsors and co-sponsors and their contact information, click here.
For an interview with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), one of the bill's sponsors, click here.