In One Eye

Friday, September 02, 2005
I continue to follow the Connecticut library case. Today, it looks as if a small victory was achieved.
In previously sealed legal papers made public today by the American Civil Liberties Union, an unnamed librarian expressed fears of imprisonment if he were to violate a gag order in a challenge to a controversial Patriot Act power used by the FBI to demand library records.

The papers, which were ordered unsealed by the judge in the case, include three affidavits and a legal brief. One of the affidavits was filed by a librarian charged with educating the library community and general public about intellectual freedom. The unnamed librarian is a representative of the ACLU's "John Doe" client in the case.

"One of the ultimate ironies of this case is that the Patriot Act has effectively gagged free speech about the Patriot Act," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, the lead lawyer in the case.

In a hearing yesterday before Judge Janet Hall of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the ACLU argued that its client has a First Amendment right to participate in the current debate in Congress over reauthorizing or expanding the Patriot Act. The ACLU is seeking an emergency court order to lift the gag so that the client may speak to Congress, the press and the public about his firsthand experiences with the Patriot Act. A transcript of yesterday's argument was also made public today.
So, at least, Mr Doe will be able to attempt to redress his grievances to the US Congress regarding this heinous piece of legislation. As attorney Beeson points out, it doesn't say much about something pompously named the USA PATRIOT act that it won't allow Americans even to discuss it.