The Connecticut Four comprises four members of Library Connection, a nonprofit consortium of 27 libraries in Connecticut, who fought the FBI's demand for library patrons' records.
Background on lawsuit
In 2005, Library Connection, received a National Security Letter (NSL) from the FBI, along with its accompanying perpetual gag order, demanding library patrons’ records. In a case known as Doe v. Gonzales, George Christian, executive director of Library Connection, and three members of the executive committee of the board engaged the ACLU to file suit to challenge the constitutional validity of the NSL. Because Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which authorizes the FBI to demand records without prior court approval, also forbids, or gags, anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone else about receiving it, they also challenged the validity of the gag order. For almost a year the ACLU fought to lift the gag order, challenging the government’s power under Section 505 to silence four citizens who wished to contribute to public debate on the PATRIOT Act.
In May 2006, the government finally gave up its legal battle to maintain the gag order. On June 26, 2006, the ACLU announced that, after dropping its defense of the gag provision accompanying the NSL request, the FBI abandoned the lawsuit entirely.
The Connecticut Four were honored by the ALA with the 2007 Paul Howard Award for Courage for their challenge to the National Security Letter and gag order provision of the USA PATRIOT Act.
- George Christian, executive director of Library Connection
- Peter Chase, vice president of Library Connection, director of the Plainville (CT) Public Library, and chairman of the Connecticut Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee
- Barbara Bailey, president of Library Connection and director of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, Connecticut
- Jan Nocek, secretary of Library Connection and director of the Portland (CT) Library.
In a summary of the actions of the Connecticut Four and their challenge to the USA PATRIOT Act, Jones (2009: 223) notes: “Librarians need to understand their country’s legal balance between the protection of freedom of expression and the protection of national security. Many librarians believe that the interests of national security, important as they are, have become an excuse for chilling the freedom to read.”
- McCook, Kathleen de la Peña (2011). Introduction to Public Librarianship, pp. 63-64. Neal-Schuman.
- Jones, Barbara M. 2009. “Librarians Shushed No More: The USA Patriot Act, the ‘Connecticut Four,’ and Professional Ethics." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 58, no. 6: 195, 221–223.
- "Four Librarians Finally Break Silence in Records Case".
- "America's Most Dangerous Librarians".
- "Interview with Barbara Bailey".
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