This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
Legality should not be confused with good public policy. Case in point: The seal of constitutionality the state Supreme Court granted a library district’s overzealous Internet filter on Thursday.
In a 6-3 decision, the court blessed the five-county North Central Regional Library District’s blanket use of Internet filters on library computers. The majority ruled that filtering adult patrons’ Internet access is not a violation of the state constitution’s free speech protections.
The court’s analysis may well be correct. No less than the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that libraries have a legitimate interest in filtering Internet content to protect minors from pornography. Under federal law, libraries are required to take such steps to receive federal assistance.
But the federal law – and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld it – was predicated on the idea that libraries could disable filters for adult patrons upon request.