Photo of a lifebuoy in water

ALA Launches Intellectual Freedom Helpline Program – Grant Applications Open 

The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the launch of its state Intellectual Freedom Helpline program. Over the next two years, ten pilot program sites will operate a confidential reporting system that will help connect those experiencing censorship attempts with professional support, in-state peers, and referral to ALA OIF as appropriate.

Unite Against Book Bans: Book Résumés

Across the country, school librarians have been on the intellectual freedom frontlines defending access to books, building understanding about policies and library procedures, and dispelling misinformation. In collaboration with the publishing community, Unite Against Book Bans unveiled a free resource for the community. AASL President-Elect Becky Calzada shares her thoughts on how this tool can be used.

The First Amendment: Where America Stands, a project from the Freedom Forum.

Understanding American’s View of the First Amendment: Breakdown of Freedom Forum’s Recent Survey

The First Amendment (to the United States Constitution) is often referenced in today’s society, but without being prompted can you name all five freedoms that are protected? This was part of a survey administered for The First Amendment: Where America Stands, a project from the Freedom Forum. Freedom Forum, as an organization, strives to raise awareness of First Amendment freedoms through education, advocacy, and action. This project surveyed over 3,000 Americans in summer 2020, asking them more than 200 questions to provide a detailed analysis of how people differ on the relevance of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Photo of Brandi Levy in high school, wearing a Mahoney High School cheerleading uniform and holding gold pom poms. in front of the supreme court

Mahoney v. Levy: the Evolution of Students’ First Amendment Rights

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy and public school students’ speech rights, in the case Mahoney School Board v. Brandi Levy. In 2017, Levy, then a 14 year old high school student in Pennsylvania, tried out for her school’s varsity cheering squad. After not making the team, she vented her frustrations in a Snapchat video, where she flipped off the camera and dropped a few swearwords. The school, after seeing the video, subsequently suspended her from the junior varsity cheer squad, saying that her video and its message violated the cheerleading code of conduct. After failing to come to a resolution with the school, Levy and her parents sued, arguing that punishing her for off campus speech violated Levy’s First Amendment rights.

Protesters in silhouette

When can the government prevent me from assembling, anyway?

Ultimately, while there may be arguments about the wisdom of these stay-at-home orders, and perhaps other constitutional arguments to be made, I don’t think the argument that they violate the right to assembly or the right to religion is particularly persuasive. Let’s cross our fingers that these social distancing measures work, and we can all go back to “normal” soon, making this debate a distant memory.