United States v. American Library Association, Inc., 539 U.S. 194, 8 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 194 (2003)

Opinion of Rehnquist, C. J.

set such software to block categories of material, such as "Pornography" or "Violence." 201 F. Supp. 2d, at 428. When a patron tries to view a site that falls within such a category, a screen appears indicating that the site is blocked. Id., at 429. But a filter set to block pornography may sometimes block other sites that present neither obscene nor pornographic material, but that nevertheless trigger the filter. To minimize this problem, a library can set its software to prevent the blocking of material that falls into categories like "Education," "History," and "Medical." Id., at 428-429. A library may also add or delete specific sites from a blocking category, id., at 429, and anyone can ask companies that furnish filtering software to unblock particular sites, id., at 430.

Responding to this information, Congress enacted CIPA. It provides that a library may not receive E-rate or LSTA assistance unless it has "a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure . . . that protects against access" by all persons to "visual depictions" that constitute "obscen[ity]" or "child pornography," and that protects against access by minors to "visual depictions" that are "harmful to minors." 20 U. S. C. 9134(f)(1)(A)(i) and (B)(i); 47 U. S. C. 254(h)(6)(B)(i) and (C)(i). The statute defines a "[t]echnology protection measure" as "a specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access to material covered by" CIPA. 254(h)(7)(I). CIPA also permits the library to "disable" the filter "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes." 20 U. S. C. 9134(f)(3); 47 U. S. C. 254(h)(6)(D). Under the E-rate program, disabling is permitted "during use by an adult." 254(h)(6)(D). Under the LSTA program, disabling is permitted during use by any person. 20 U. S. C. 9134(f)(3).

Appellees are a group of libraries, library associations, library patrons, and Web site publishers, including the American Library Association (ALA) and the Multnomah County Public Library in Portland, Oregon (Multnomah). They

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