FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2022
Contact: Charlie Blodnieks, Protect the Protest
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced the SLAPP Protection Act, landmark legislation that would protect free speech and uphold the integrity of our courts. The Protect the Protest task force calls on Congress to support this critical legislation and defend our democracy from baseless legal attacks.
Through SLAPPs—strategic lawsuits against public participation—the most powerful are using the courts to sue protestors, journalists, advocates, and others who speak out on public matters, hoping to tie them up in court until they sign away their First Amendment rights. These lawsuits, often filed by powerful interests, have impacted people from all walks of life, from journalists and bloggers, teachers and activists, to survivors of domestic abuse.
“The SLAPP Protection Act will help to stop powerful corporations and individuals from weaponizing the courts to trample on the First Amendment,” said Kirk Herbertson, Senior Policy Advisor at EarthRights International and member of Protect the Protest. “Democracy depends on our ability to speak up, demand respect for our rights, and hold the powerful accountable. This Act does just that, protecting the First Amendment rights of people across the political spectrum.”
To date, 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed anti-SLAPP laws(1), overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. But the lack of protections in federal courts leaves a crucial gap that is being exploited. Legislation is needed at the federal level to prevent SLAPPs, dismiss them quickly from our courts, penalize those who use them, and guarantee First Amendment protections to all Americans, regardless of where they live.
“SLAPPs are not only a threat to free speech, but to the integrity of our court system,” said Audrey Caines, Coordinator of the Protect the Protest Task Force. “The SLAPP Protection Act brings us closer to a system that serves the best interests of the people, by eliminating a legal loophole that enables powerful, wealthy groups to abuse the courts and silence critics.”
Protect the Protest is a coalition of nonprofits, NGOs, and legal organizations joining together to defend the rights of protesters and dissenters across the country. To learn more about our operations, please visit www.ProtectTheProtest.org; to read the stories of those impacted by SLAPPs, please read through our storytelling project at www.ProtectTheProtest.org/stories/
- EarthRights International, “The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Use of SLAPPs and Judicial Harassment in the United States” September 2022