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CIPA still looming over schools

In response to the July 31 Perspectives column by Ralf G. Neas, "Why filtering laws just won't work":

The jubilation over the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) being struck down is premature. Unfortunately, schools are still subject to the laws. The lawsuit did not cover school libraries; it only covered public libraries. In August 2001, I received this response from the American Library Association to a question regarding the lawsuit:

"The reason that school libraries will not be affected if the CIPA litigation is successful is because the lawsuit only contests the provisions of CIPA that affect public libraries. The ALA cannot contest the school library provisions in CIPA because it cannot act on behalf of school libraries, who can only be represented by their respective school boards.

Since the lawsuit does not raise the school library provisions, the court will not address them or change them. It is a well-settled legal principle that courts will not overturn provisions that are not contested by a party with legal standing. Unfortunately, this means that the school library provisions contained in CIPA are in force and will remain in effect, even if the ALA wins its lawsuit. "

Please don't assume that the lawsuit means that the law has gone away. Until it is struck down for schools as well as public libraries, it is still out there and dangerous.

Laura Pearle
Head Librarian/Gladys Brooks Library
New York, N.Y.