In united states v american library association inc

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In United States v. American Library Association, Inc., the majority and dissenting opinions differ mainly on the belief of what is more important: the government’s interest in protecting citizen’s (especially minors) from inappropriate, invaluable internet content, or the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Justice Rehnquist argues that, in the event that the government provides public funds for a program, it has the right to establish parameters for the program it is funding. Similarly, in an effort to serve its citizens, the government may attempt to protect them (specifically minors) from obscene or harmful internet content. Justice Stevens, countering Rehnquist’s argument, asserts that the governmental requirement of the use of internet filters for all libraries desiring to receive governmental funds, too broadly restrains free, constitutionally protected speech in its attempt to eliminate that speech which it deems inappropriate. Justice Stevens argues that the First Amendment protection of free speech takes priority over governmental attempts to censor out harmful speech that simultaneously censor valuable, constitutionally protected speech. While both Justices agree that filtering software is not unconstitutional, they differ as to whether it is constitutional for the government to require the use of filtering software as a stipulation for receiving of governmental funds. Justice Rehnquist first establishes that, by providing public funding to a project or program, the government is given broad range to define the limits of such programs to further governmental interests, such as protecting its citizens. Next, he stresses that the governmental provision requiring internet filters does not eliminate or restrain any free speech rights, it simply signifies the government’s decision not to endorse
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libraries’ offering of completely unfiltered access to the entire public. Furthermore, he asserts that the libraries, as public entities, do not even have constitutional rights so therefore they cannot be limited. Finally, with respect to the argument that imposing such filters simultaneously censors valuable and inappropriate speech, Justice Rehnquist asserts that the filtering software allows for valuable sites to easily be unblocked, and offers the most effective method for ensure the protection of minors from exposure to inappropriate material. Justice Stevens argues that the constitutional protection of unrestricted speech should take priority over the imperfect governmental attempt to protect its citizens from harmful speech. He claims that such a requirement limits the discretionary authority that should be granted to libraries and that it also signifies the use of “treasury to impose controls on an important medium of expression.” He compares the duty of librarians to that of university administrators and teachers, clearly demonstrating the degree of discretion that would normally be granted to people in such positions. He also argues that if the government is going to limit a right as fundamental as that of free speech, it should be as narrowly tailored as possible. He asserts a very valid claim
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  • Fall '11
  • Dupont
  • History, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Rehnquist

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