Monday, April 16, 2012

One Defendant Dismissed In Establishment Clause Challenge To Library Internet Filtering Policy

In Hunter v. City of Salem, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50782 (ED MO, April 11, 2011), a Missouri federal district court dismissed as to one defendant a free expression and and Establishment Clause challenge to the Internet filtering policies of the Salem, Missouri public library.  Plaintiff, who was attempting to conduct research on Native American spirituality and on the Wiccan Church claimed that the library's policy of blocking religious websites categorized as 'occult' or 'criminal skills' while allowing access to the websites of more mainstream religions" was a content and viewpoint-based restriction on speech and has the effect favoring one religious viewpoint over another in violation of the Establishment Clause. The court dismissed the city as a defendant finding that the city retained no control or oversight over the library that was governed by a separate Library Board. The suit however will move forward against the Library Board and the library's director. (See prior related posting.)