The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced that it has become of a member of the Media Coalition, a national association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and sell books, magazines, recordings, videotapes, videogames, and now comic books.  Founded in 1972, the Media Coalition membership includes: The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, The Association of American Publishers Inc., The Freedom to Read Foundation, The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association, The International Periodical Distributors Association, Inc., The Motion Picture Association of America, and The American Library Association.


Membership in the Media Coalition will afford the CBLDF the ability to keep a much closer eye on what is happening in Congress and the various state legislatures as well as to participate in legal challenges to unconstitutional laws and prepare amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs in cases involving the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of constitutionally protected works.  The CBLDF has already worked with the Media Coalition to fight an Arkansas law, which placed unconstitutional restraints on the display of written materials (see 'CBLDF Joins in Arkansas Suit').  By joining together with representatives from other industries (books, movies, games, etc.) to fight censorship, the CBLDF not only raises the profile and standing of comic books, but also gains access to the resources (legal and financial) of much bigger organizations.

The CBLDF also announced that it was filing an amicus curiae brief in support of an ACLU challenge against Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  This section gives the FBI access to the bookstore and library records of any person who is deemed by the FBI to have any information relative to a terrorism investigation.  The FBI requests authorizing a search are heard by a secret court in a closed proceeding -- and the search orders contain a gag provision forbidding a bookseller or librarian from alerting anyone to the fact that a search has occurred, making it all but impossible to protest the search even after it has taken place.  Section 215 is so 'iffy' from a First Amendment perspective that Attorney John Ashcroft has seen fit to announce that the FBI has not used it, which, given the number of terrorist investigations conducted by the FBI since 9/11, would seem to indicate that it is unnecessary as well as unconstitutional.