At the Oct 6,2004 board meeting, League member Bob Price spoke to the board about Article 1 on the Special Town meeting warrant. This article is a resolution proposed by the Library Trustees. They opposed the Federal Government having the right to seize and inspect the library’s records of books patrons have borrowed and of internet websites they have consulted. After his presentation the board discussed this resolution and felt it fell under the Civil Liberties Position adopted by the National League of Women Voters. A vote was taken and the board decided to support the Library Trustee’s resolution.
The League of Women Voters of Westford supports Article 1, which opposes provisions of the USA Patriot Act, specifically the provisions that encroach on individual civil liberties. We support this article because if citizens think that they could be the subject of law enforcement surveillance based on the books they read and the websites they visit, it could infringe upon their right to exercise first amendment freedoms and engage in civic life. The League strongly believes that basic civil liberties must be preserved and protected as the nation seeks to guard against terrorism and other threats to national security.
While this vote will not directly affect the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, it is important for the town to put our opposition to such infringements on public record. In addition, the League encourages anyone interested to take action by writing to your senators and congressmen. There are a number of bills that were introduced in Congress to address some of the excesses in the USA Patriot Act. We have provided details on these bills as well as a sample letter that you can send to your Senators and representative in Congress in our Contact Your Officials section. Several of these bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Ted Kennedy is a member, and to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, where Representative Marty Meehan is a member. The League encourages you to contact Senator Kennedy and Representative Meehan, specifically, with regard to this critical issue.