Representative Jamie Raskin Introduces Landmark Bill Establishing Federal Anti-SLAPP Statute to Protect First Amendment Rights
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 International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, a proud member of the Protect the Protest coalition task force, calls on Congress to support this critical legislation and defend our democracy from baseless legal attacks.
The is the nation’s first Anti-SLAPP bill at the federal level and it’s introduction follows yesterday’s Congressional hearing, where experts, testified on the dangers SLAPPs pose to free speech and healthy democracy. Corporations cannot be allowed to manipulate our legal system by utilizing costly and meritless lawsuits like SLAPPs to silence those that speak out against abuse.
“By introducing the SLAPP Protection Act, Congressman Raskin is leading the way in ensuring that people can speak up about problems and injustices important to their communities and the American people “ said David McKean, Executive Director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and member of the Protect the Protest task force. “SLAPP lawsuits aren’t regular court cases. They’re baseless legal actions filed by powerful individuals and businesses, targeting the free speech of protestors, non-profit organizations, and others who speak out on public matters. These attacks aim to drain the resources of those directly targeted and scare others from exercising their first amendment rights. Dozens of states have passed anti-SLAPP laws protecting people and state courts from this abusive tactic. The SLAPP Protection Act would do the same for the federal court system, representing a significant step forward in eliminating these egregious attacks.”
Through SLAPPs—strategic lawsuits against public participation—the most powerful are abusing 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 corporations and wealthy individuals, 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, 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 housed at ICAR. “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.”
For media inquiries contact:
Mannal Babar, ICAR
The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) is a civil society organization that believes in the need for an economy that respects the rights of all people, not just powerful corporations. We harness the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality. For more information, visit us: https://icar.ngo/