Congressman Bernie Sanders, Sponsor of the Freedom to Read Protection Act, to Speak at BEA

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Rep. Bernie Sanders (I, VT)

Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders will participate in American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) programming planned for Saturday, May 31, at BookExpo America (BEA). Sanders will bring booksellers up to date on his efforts to restore First Amendment protection of the privacy of bookstore and library records that was taken away by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. In addition, in recognition of his efforts, Sanders will be honored at ABA's Annual Celebration of Bookselling on Friday evening, May 30.

"Congressman Sanders is the first member of Congress to have the courage to propose amending the USA Patriot Act, and he is doing it on behalf of booksellers and librarians," said ABFFE President Chris Finan. "We know that booksellers will be eager to hear him -- and to thank him."

Sanders introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) at the request of Vermont booksellers and librarians. H.R. 1157 would repeal the provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the FBI to secretly request and serve a subpoena for bookstore and library records if the FBI believes they are relevant to a foreign intelligence investigation, even the records of people who are not suspected of committing a crime. If served with a subpoena, the bookseller or librarian is forbidden to reveal that they have released this information.

Sanders will speak as part of the program "Terrorism, Privacy, and First Amendment Rights," scheduled for May 31, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Also featured will be David Cole, a Georgetown Law School professor and author of Terrorism and the Constitution (New Press), and Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood and author of Behind Every Choice Is a Story (University of North Texas Press), a collection of letters by patients, teachers, doctors, teenagers, mothers, and others about love, sex, pregnancy, and family.

Cole is an expert on the Patriot Act and previous antiterrorism laws that have undermined First Amendment rights. Feldt will discuss the important role that privacy has played in the growth of civil liberties in the U.S.

"Terrorism, Privacy, and First Amendment Rights" is co-sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation and the Association of American Publishers.