PNBA Petitions Congress to Repeal Section 215 of Patriot Act

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The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) recently sent a petition on behalf of its members to all U.S. congressional representatives from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington urging support of H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Information Act, which would repeal Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

Saying that Section 215 of the Patriot Act "denies booksellers free speech rights and immediate access to legal counsel when contacted by law enforcement" and is "a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of bookstore customers and booksellers," the PNBA board of directors unanimously approved the resolution.

PNBA distributed a "Dear Member of Congress" letter to its 215 bookstore members, and 96 bookstores returned petitions, containing 516 signatures of owners, managers, and staff. "Our member booksellers are an eclectic group, representing an enormous range of political and philosophical perspectives," said Thom Chambliss, PNBA executive director. "They have, with tremendous solidarity, come together to express their opposition to Section 215 of the Patriot Act."

Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-ID) is a sponsor of H.R. 1157, and representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Darlene Hooley (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Jim McDermott (D-WA) are co-sponsors. "We now urge the rest of our Northwest delegates to add their names in support of H.R. 1157, and request that our Senators support similar legislation in the Senate," said Chambliss.

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is encouraging all booksellers to contact their members of Congress to urge support of H.R. 1157 or to thank those who have already become sponsors. (For a complete list of sponsors and co-sponsors, click here.)

Text of PNBA's resolution and letter to Congress are available online at and