United States v. American Library Association, Inc., 539 U.S. 194, 19 (2003)

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Opinion of Rehnquist, C. J.

may certainly insist that these "public funds be spent for the purposes for which they were authorized." Ibid. Especially because public libraries have traditionally excluded pornographic material from their other collections, Congress could reasonably impose a parallel limitation on its Internet assistance programs. As the use of filtering software helps to carry out these programs, it is a permissible condition under Rust.

Justice Stevens asserts the premise that "[a] federal statute penalizing a library for failing to install filtering software on every one of its Internet-accessible computers would unquestionably violate [the First] Amendment." Post, at 226. See also post, at 230-231. But—assuming again that public libraries have First Amendment rights—CIPA does not "penalize" libraries that choose not to install such software, or deny them the right to provide their patrons with unfiltered Internet access. Rather, CIPA simply reflects Congress' decision not to subsidize their doing so. To the extent that libraries wish to offer unfiltered access, they are free to do so without federal assistance. " 'A refusal to fund protected activity, without more, cannot be equated with the imposition of a "penalty" on that activity.' " Rust, supra, at 193 (quoting Harris v. McRae, 448 U. S. 297, 317, n. 19 (1980)). " '[A] legislature's decision not to subsidize the exercise of a fundamental right does not infringe the right.' " Rust, supra, at 193 (quoting Regan v. Taxation With Representation of Wash., 461 U. S. 540, 549 (1983)).6

example, to provide the ability to browse library collections, review the collections of museums, or find new information on the treatment of an illness, to Americans everywhere via . . . libraries").

6 These holdings, which Justice Stevens ignores, also make clear that his reliance on Rutan v. Republican Party of Ill., 497 U. S. 62 (1990), Elrod v. Burns, 427 U. S. 347 (1976), and Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U. S. 183 (1952), is misplaced. See post, at 227. The invalidated state action in those cases involved true penalties, such as denial of a promotion or outright discharge from employment, not nonsubsidies.

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