Tattered Cover Case Heard by Colorado Supreme Court

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On Wednesday, December 5, the Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments in the Tattered Cover Book Store's appeal to protect the privacy rights of bookstore customers. Law enforcement authorities have tried to obtain the Denver bookstore's records, asserting that they would assist in a case involving the manufacture of methamphetamines.

"At stake in this case are the First Amendment rights of every bookstore and library patron in the state of Colorado to read without fear," Dan Recht, the attorney for the Tattered Cover, told the court. "If what we read today can result in a subpoena or a search warrant tomorrow, fear replaces freedom."

The day after the hour-long argument, Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover, spoke to BTW about the proceeding: "The long-awaited day arrived, and I felt that our side presented very, very well. The justices brought forward good questions, and we were able to make strong points. We hope for and expect a positive outcome on behalf of the First Amendment... We understand that it will be at least two to three months [until there's a decision] and maybe as long as nine months. The indication from the chief justice was that they will probably have a decision before the end of the school year."

Meskis said, "I'm extremely grateful for the incredible support from ABFFE, booksellers, publishers, and authors who've made financial contributions and given us incredible moral support."

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) filed amicus briefs supporting the Tattered Cover on behalf of itself and 14 other organizations, including the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, PEN American Center, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association, the Colorado Freedom of Information Council, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Freedom of Expression, and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The amicus brief filed on June 11 is available on the ABFFE Web site; you can access by clicking here.

-Molly Sackler