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Statement by Linda Chavez to Loudoun County Library Board.
Re: Loudoun County Library Internet Filtering Policy.

Date: December 1, 1998.
Source: Linda Chavez.  Linda Chavez gave the paper copy of the statement which she read at the hearing to Tech Law Journal.  TLJ created this document by scanning the original and converting it to HTML.

My name is Linda Chavez. I currently reside in Purcellville, Virginia. I am the former director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. I am president of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C., and write a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column that appears in the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun, a several dozen other newspapers around the country. I am also a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment in particular.

It is precisely because of my strong belief in the importance of the First Amendment that I urge this Board of Trustees to appeal Judge Leonie Brinkema's decision last week striking down the Board's policy with regard to Internet access in Loudoun County library. Judge Brinkema's decision goes far beyond any reasonable interpretation of the 'free speech' clause of the First Amendment and sets dangerous legal precedent that if left unchallenged will debase the political freedoms of citizens in a democracy to enact sensible policies designed both to protect children and uphold community standards of decency and decorum in public places.

The First Amendment was never intended to protect obscene speech, much less images of violent sexual acts involving not only children but animals and non consenting women. Yet it is precisely this type of material that plaintiffs Mainstream Loudoun et al would force Loudoun taxpayers to provide access to on county library computer terminals. Indeed, Judge Brinkema's decision suggests that she would not countenance any library policy to deny access to anything on the Internet, even to minors-- a policy consistent with the American Library Association's extremist views on this issue as articulated in Article 5 of the ALA's Library Bill of Rights and a 1997 policy resolution on Internet filtering.

Judge Brinkema's judgment on issues related to pornography is highly suspect. In 1995, for example, she sentenced a defendant convicted of collecting child pornography to probation, because she believed his behavior did not threaten others. A few months later, the defendant was arrested after failing to report to his probation officer an incident in which he was found watching young boys shower at a recreational center. Judge Brinkema then imposed a nine months jail sentence, telling the defendant he had failed to demonstrate that he was rehabilitated after having, "received an incredibly generous sentence."

Judge Brinkema's record of reversal on appeal -- she has been overturned 10 times on drug sentencing cases alone -- and the novel views she espouses in her opinion in Mainstream Loudoun suggest that the Board of Trustees would likely prevail in the Fourth Circuit. It is your duty to defend the Board's policy by appealing Judge Brinkema's baseless and dangerous decision. I, along with several others here tonight, stand ready to assist the Board in securing competent legal representation to pursue an appeal.


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