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October 2014 update:

• Arce v. Huppenthal: The Freedom to Read Foundation continues to support and monitor this litigation involving Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program. The removal of books from class-rooms was just the start of a multi-year journey; FTRF’s amicus brief is currently in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  We've created a special page with details on the case.

• Antigone Books v. Horne: FTRF was founded in 1969 with the under¬standing that laws threatening our basic First Amendment rights must be challenged—particularly if they impact libraries’ right to distribute, and library users’ right to receive, constitutionally protected information. Last month FTRF filed suit in Arizona to overturn the state’s “nude image” ban. It’s a law with wide-ranging ramifications for libraries, bookstores, journalists, educators, and artists. The law as written could apply to artistic, news, and educational images published online and in print. Simply put, FTRF and our co-plaintiffs believe the law is too vague and overbroad to pass constitutional muster—and puts librarians at risk of prosecution. We also have created a fact sheet on the case to answer questions some have raised about our involvement in the suit.

• SBAL v. Driehaus: This summer, the Supreme Court affirmed an amicus brief filed by FTRF in support of the ability to challenge potentially unconstitutional laws before they are implemented. Many of FTRF’s key cases were successful because FTRF brought suit before anyone could be charged under laws later found unconstitutional. In this case, a federal court indeed overturned the “false campaign speech” law in question.

• Banned Books Week brings significant awareness of the dangers of censorship. The Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund’s seven Banned Books Week grant recipients sponsored dozens of innovative, informative, and provocative events and programs. One example: Columbus State Community College librarians created an online “What Banned Book Are You?” quiz that was shared by over 300,000 people!

• Challenges to library materials: The Freedom to Read Foundation supports OIF’s efforts to help individual librarians facing challenges to library and school materials by providing crucial legal information and assistance when needed and advocacy, encouragement, and support for teachers, librarians, and community members who are resisting efforts to censor books. Some of these cases, such as the successful defense of The House of the Spirits in Watauga County, N.C., gain national attention; others are handled in the utmost confidence. Either way, FTRF will continue to be there for librarians in need.

• Education: This semester brought us the first-ever collaborative graduate course sponsored by the FTRF and the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship,” taught by Prof. Emily Knox, has brought together students from around the country to learn intellectual freedom principles in both theory and practice. FTRF helped coordinate guest speakers, provided books to the students, and made available articles, speeches, and interviews from our archives.  FTRF also provided course scholarships to two outstanding applicants.


September 2013 update:
• When word got out that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) had ordered the removal of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis from classrooms and school libraries, FTRF worked with local students, librarians, teachers, and concerned citizens to restore access. We contacted CPS administrators and the local media, and filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details of the removal decision. Since then, the district has confirmed that the book will remain available in libraries and for instructional use above the seventh-grade level.

• Via the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, the Foundation provided seven grants to libraries and community groups for Banned Books Week Read-Outs. These grants, in addition to providing much-needed support for wonderful grassroots events, helped bring awareness of the Freedom to Read Foundation—and Judith Krug’s legacy—to communities across the country. 
• In our most recent case, filed in August, the Freedom to Read Foundation joined with other free speech organizations in filing an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court asking it to grant certiorari in a case involving a New York State tax that, we believe, unconstitutionally discriminates against certain entertainment performances because they’re perceived to be "low value” speech.
• One of FTRF’s proudest moments this year came in January, when it was announced that the Davis County, Utah, Public School System would reinstate Patricia Polacco’s In Our Mothers’ House, unrestricted to school library shelves. FTRF worked very closely with the ACLU of Utah—providing expert legal assistance and other resources to ensure the strongest case possible. Our behind-the-scenes efforts contributed to the quick settlement by the school board.

 October 2012 update

· We just finished a tremendously successful Banned Books Week! This year was FTRF’s first as an official Banned Books Week sponsor, and with the eight Judith Krug Memorial Fund event grants, our record-breaking social media presence, and speaking engagements around the country, FTRF’s profile was higher than ever. The word about the important work FTRF does is spreading farther than ever!

· For the third consecutive year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision consistent with an amicus brief submitted by the Freedom to Read Foundation. This year it was on the tricky issue of whether someone can be prosecuted for lying (in this case, about military honors). The key issue in U.S. v. Alvarez – and one the FTRF stressed in our brief – was whether Congress can create a new class of constitutionally unprotected speech. We are pleased that the Court continues to acknowledge the harmful effects of such threats to the First Amendment.

· Also in 2012 we have been increasingly focused on the issue of filtering. We’re seeing more and more cases where these technological tools are blocking our right to engage, learn, and grow—and abridge our First Amendment rights. Recently we worked with a Missouri consortium to ensure their filters’ default settings didn't unconstitutionally discriminate against LGBT students. Our general counsel, Theresa Chmara, issued a memorandum about the legal context of filtering, in order to guide libraries going forward. And we were proud to be a national promotional partner of the American Association of School Librarians’ Banned Websites Awareness Day, which brought the issue to the forefront for school librarians, students, and teachers.

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