Litigation

Bill Targets Lawsuits Meant To Chill Speech

Running up litigation expenses has become an effective way to bludgeon opponents

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Recently, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AR) introduced a new federal anti-SLAPP bill called the Free Speech Act of 2012. While the bill doesn't go nearly far enough, EFF is encouraged to see that Congress is showing renewed interested in passing legislation to prevent so called "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" (SLAPP) that attempt to censor and chill First Amendment protected speech.

Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to stop defamation lawsuits—frequently filed by plaintiffs with deep pockets—that have little to no chance of winning, yet are aimed at pressuring the target into settling for fear of expensive litigation. Generally, the laws allow defendants who are engaged in clearly protected speech to dismiss these lawsuits early on—and in some cases, force the plaintiff to pay legal costs if the suit is frivolous—hopefully discouraging litigants from ever filing them in the first place.