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Neal, Bloom win 2015 FTRF Roll of Honor Awards

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Congratulations to FTRF Treasurer Jim Neal and First Amendment attorney Jonathan Bloom on their selection as recipients of the Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor Awards. The awards will be presented next month at the Opening General Session of the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. Click here to read the press release about the awards.

Neal, who recently retired from his position as University Librarian at Columbia University, has been instrumental in building FTRF's membership and fundraising capacity, and has been a strong public voice for the litigation and advocacy work of the Foundation.  Bloom, an attorney at Weil, Gotshal in New York, has been responsible for some of FTRF's key amicus briefs in recent years and, as counsel for the Association of American Publishers Freedom to Read Committee, has built an impressive reputation as a champion of the First Amendment.

The Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor was established in 1987 to recognize and honor those individuals who have contributed substantially through adherence to its principles and/or substantial monetary support.  

Tags:  2015 ALA Annual Conference  James G. Neal  Jonathan Bloom  Roll of Honor Award 

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Federal judge rules Pennsylvania prior restraint law unconstitutional

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Tuesday, April 28, a federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down the state's "Revictimization Relief Act," agreeing with plaintiffs that it violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution.

The law at issue was passed in October 2014, and permitted crime victims to sue convicted offenders to stop "conduct" - including speech - that cause "mental anguish" to the victims. The law was not limited to prisoners - even those completely out of the justice system could be subject to its restrictions. Much of the press surrounding Tuesday's decision focused on controversial prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, whose commencement address at Goddard College last year took place three days before the bill was introduced and was referenced by then-Governor Tom Corbett when he signed the bill into law.

The case is ​Prison Legal News v. Kane.  (Edited to add: the ruling covered another case as well, ​Mumia Abu Jamal v. Kane​.)

In his decision, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Christopher Conner wrote, “A past criminal offense does not extinguish the offender’s constitutional right to free expression.” Judge Conner dismissed the state’s argument that the law was a mere regulation of conduct with an incidental impact on speech, and noted that even if that had been the case, the law would still be flawed:

Assuming arguendo that the Act or its history revealed a principal intention to regulate behavior and only an incidental regulation of speech, the court‟s holding would remain unaltered. The Supreme Court has held that when a law “generally functions as a regulation of conduct” it is nonetheless subject to strict scrutiny when “as applied to plaintiffs[,] the conduct triggering coverage under the statute consists of communicating a message.” Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S. 1, 27-28 (2012). 

As reported in the March edition of FTRF News, the Freedom to Read Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case in February, arguing that allowing judges to issue injunctions in accordance with the law constitutes prior restraint "on a limitless range of speech, including matters of public interest, such as deterring crime, rehabilitation of prisoners, prison conditions, and fundamental issues of justice."

You can find the judge's decision here. For more on the ruling, visit Volokh Conspiracy and Philadelphia City Paper (one of the plaintiffs).

The bill's sponsor has indicated he will ask about an appeal and, if the Attorney General declines, will introduce new legislation.

Tags:  ACLU  litigation  Prison Legal News v. Kane  Revictimization Relief Act 

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Wednesday in Austin: FTRF45 Reception featuring David Levithan!

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Friday, April 10, 2015

For those attending TXLA next week – or anyone in the Austin area!

FTRF45/Austin Reception
Wednesday, April 15  - 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Uncle Julio’s, 301 Brazos St.


Will you be in or around the Austin, Texas area on Wednesday, April 15? If so, please consider joining the Freedom to Read Foundation as we gather at Uncle Julio's as part of our continued celebration of FTRF45!  Visit for tickets and additional details.

This event will feature award-winning Young Adult author David Levithan. David will be discussing his experiences with censorship and signing copies of Every Day and his forthcoming book, Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story, which will be available to attendees for an additional donation.

For attendees of the Texas Library Association conference: Uncle Julio's is located a block away from the Austin Convention Center

Advance tickets: $40.00 FTRF members • $45.00 non-members • $25.00 students

Tickets at the door: $50.00

If you would prefer to get tickets by phone, or have any questions, please call (312) 280-4226.

Note: Texas Library Association Annual Conference attendees can add this ticket to their TLA event registration. 

Cosponsored by Texas Women's University School of Library and Information Studies. 

Special thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group and Random House Children's Books for their support of this event!

Tags:  Austin  David Levithan  FTRF45  Texas Library Association 

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Deadline for Conable Conference Scholarship applications extended to April 8

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Friday, April 3, 2015

The deadline to apply for the 2015 Conable Conference Scholarship has been extended until Midnight CST on Wednesday, April 8. To apply, visit

The Conable Scholarship provides for ALA Annual Conference registration, transportation, housing for six nights, and a $300 stipend for meals and other expenses. The recipient also will receive a one-year membership in the Freedom to Read Foundation.  In return, the recipient will be expected to attend various FTRF and other intellectual freedom meetings and programs at conference, consult with a mentor/board member, and present a report about their experiences and thoughts.

The 2015 ALA Annual Conference will be held June 25-30 in San Francisco, CA.

Students currently enrolled in an ALA-accredited library and information studies degree program or an AASL-recognized master’s programs in school librarianship and new professionals (those who are three or fewer years removed from receiving an LIS degree) are eligible to receive the Conable Scholarship.

Tags:  Conable Scholarship 

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Scholarships available for fall "Intellectual Freedom & Censorship" at University of Illinois

Posted By Candace D. Morgan, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Freedom to Read Foundation and University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) today announced a continuation of our successful collaboration on "Intellectual Freedom and Censorship" - a two-credit online course for graduate students.  The collaboration is a project of FTRF's Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund.

This year, FTRF is pleased to announce we are offering four half-scholarships for students in institutions other than GSLIS. If you are - or know of - a student who would be interested in this opportunity, please spread the word!

For those who would like to make a donation to the Krug Fund, to help support the scholarships and the course, you can DONATE NOW.  Visit for more information on this fund.

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