Free Expression

14 Nov

Advocacy Groups Seek Injunction to Compel Justice Dept. to Respond to Questions Regarding USA Patriot Act

On November 13, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and three other free expression groups filed a preliminary injunction asking that a federal court order the Department of Justice (DOJ) to respond immediately to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the groups on October 24. The free expression groups are seeking information on how the government is using the widespread surveillance powers it has been granted under the USA Patriot Act (for a related article, click here.)

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14 Nov

Opposition to USA Patriot Act Is Growing

By Chris Finan, ABFFE President

There were no booksellers or librarians singing "Happy Birthday" when the USA Patriot Act celebrated its first anniversary on October 26. Concern about the potential chilling effect on free speech of some of the provisions of the law has grown sharply over the last 12 months.

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06 Nov

Booksellers Challenge South Carolina Internet Statute

On Wednesday, November 6, booksellers and free speech advocates filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina a complaint asking that a South Carolina law be permanently enjoined. The statute criminalizes any work communicated on the Internet that is accessible in South Carolina and contains a depiction of nudity or sexual conduct considered to be "harmful to minors." Booksellers are concerned that the law could be construed to include material with sexual content sold on their Web sites.

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30 Oct

Virginia Seeks to Reinstate Internet 'Harmful to Minors' Law

On Monday, October 28, Virginia's Internet "harmful to minors" statute was back in court. Before a three-judge panel in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, the state of Virginia asked that a U.S. District Court's judgment that permanently enjoined a statute criminalizing Internet communications deemed harmful to minors be overturned and the statute reinstated.

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24 Oct

ABFFE Sues Justice Dept. Over Freedom of Information Request

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) has joined three other free expression groups in suing the Department of Justice to learn how many subpoenas have been issued to bookstores, libraries, and newspapers under the USA Patriot Act. The suit was filed on October 24 and comes after a lack of response from the Department of Justice to a Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) request, filed in August, for the information.

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10 Oct

U.C., San Diego Admits First Amendment Mistake After ABFFE and FEN Protest

In the face of a challenge from the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and other national free expression organizations, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has dropped its demand that two student groups -- one a collective that runs a bookstore -- pull links from their Web sites. The university had called for Groundwork Books and the Che Café Collective to make the changes to the Web sites because the links allegedly violated the USA Patriot Act.

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02 Oct

Ban the Books

By Roger Rosenblatt

The week of September 21-28 is declared Banned Book Week by the American Library Association and other organizations interested in publicizing attempts to ban books in schools and libraries.

Except for a concern about the future of democracy, I don't understand what the fuss is about. Ban all the books, I say.

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19 Sep

Top Authors to Speak at Banned Books Week Fundraiser for ABFFE

Authors Pat Conroy, Dave Barry, Connie May Fowler, and Cassandra King will speak at a Banned Books Week fundraiser at Books & Books, Coral Gables, on Saturday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m. The event is being held on the first day of Banned Books Week (September 21-28), the only national celebration of the freedom to read.

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05 Sep

Banned Books Week 2002 -- Let Freedom Read!

Again this year, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be a sponsor of Banned Books Week, the only national celebration of First Amendment rights. In 2001, over 1,000 independent booksellers and 2,500 libraries participated in Banned Books Week, and, once again, participating booksellers report that Banned Books Week is one of their customers' favorite promotions.

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04 Sep

Too Free?

By Ken Paulson

In a First Amendment Center/American Journalism Review survey, nearly half of those responding said they think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. And about the same number said the American press has been too aggressive in asking government officials for information about the war on terrorism. Full survey results are available at

Fear can short-circuit freedom.

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21 Aug

Advocacy Groups Hit Justice Department with Freedom of Information Request

On August 21, two days after House Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) threatened to subpoena Attorney General John Ashcroft over the Justice Department's refusal to divulge information on the USA Patriot Act, civil liberties groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the department.

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21 Aug

Rep. Sensenbrenner Wants Answers from Ashcroft on Patriot Act

After refusing a Congressional demand to reveal, among other things, how many subpoenas the Justice Department has issued under the USA Patriot Act to bookstores, libraries, and newspapers, Attorney General John Ashcroft might find himself served with a subpoena. That, at least, was a threat levied by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

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15 Aug

Attempt to Ban Potter Series Fails

In early August, some residents of Pampa, Texas, handed the Pampa Independent School District school board a petition containing 750 signatures requesting a ban of the Harry Potter series, as reported by On August 5, the board voted 5-2 to deny the petition and keep the Potter series in the school curriculum.

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08 Aug

Citing First Amendment Violation, Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Ohio Legislation

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of an amended portion of the state of Ohio's sex offence law, which had extended the definition of material deemed "harmful to juveniles" to include certain computer-based content. The law -- passed by the Ohio legislature in February and signed by Governor Bob Taft in May -- was challenged in U.S. District Court by a broad-based coalition, which included the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and Dayton bookstore Wilkie News.

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