CyberTimes, January 14, 1999

A California judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming that a public library should be prohibited from offering its patrons open access to the Internet since minors could potentially access inappropriate material.

The case was brought against the city of Livermore, Calif., by the mother of a 12-year-old boy who, she claimed, was able to download pornography at one of the city’s libraries.

The library defended its open access policy on the grounds that censoring Internet material would compromise the First Amendment rights of its adult visitors. It further argued that it is the responsibility of parents to determine for their own children what is inappropriate.

The plaintiff’s lawyer unsuccessfully argued that the library’s open access policy is at odds with the U.S. Constitution because it violates the 14th Amendment’s due process clause, which prohibits the government from harming its citizens. This was the second time the mother had tried to battle the library’s policy in court: a previous claim that the library was in violation of California law was also dismissed.