New Anti-SLAPP Bill Would Protect Activists From Abusive Lawsuits

"The bill introduced last week follows efforts in 32 states to dissuade companies and individuals from filing lawsuits that aren’t intended to prevail in court, but to be so costly for defendants that they discourage criticism."

"Federal legislation introduced last week would help human rights defenders, environmental activists and regular people fight meritless lawsuits designed to drain them of resources. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs, are intended to silence the critics of companies or individuals by subjecting them to time-consuming and expensive litigation. The point is not to win, but to deter unflattering criticism.  

The SLAPP Protection Act of 2022, introduced last Thursday by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), would create a pathway for a judge to quickly dismiss a lawsuit if they found that the allegations amounted to First Amendment protected speech. It would also empower judges to force those behind the SLAPP suits to reimburse the money their targets spent on lawyers.

“This legislation is super powerful,” said Greenpeace General Counsel Deepa Padmanabha, who is confronting two multi-million dollar lawsuits filed by corporations against the environmental organization. “SLAPPs are a desperate attempt to silence resistance, to silence exposure, to silence public watchdogs from exposing the fossil fuel industry for what it is.”"

Alleen Brown reports for Inside Climate News September 23, 2022.

Source: Inside Climate News, 09/26/2022