Free-market, pro-consumer groups support federal anti-SLAPP legislation

Yesterday, a coalition of free-market, pro-consumer groups sent a letter in support of the SPEAK FREE Act to members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Here’s a portion of that letter:

“On behalf of the undersigned free­-market organizations, we write to express our strong support for H.R. 2304, the SPEAK FREE Act, and urge you to move it swiftly through markup. We believe robust free-speech protections are vital not only to preserve individual liberty, but also to facilitate commerce. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R­-Texas, and Anna Eshoo, D-­Calif., would bolster First Amendment protections against malicious or frivolous litigation that threatens to stifle free speech and undermine the digital economy.

Each year, a multitude of Americans fall victim to lawsuits called SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) that are aimed at unfairly intimidating and silencing them. These kinds of lawsuits are highly effective, despite being without merit, since the legal costs, invasion of privacy, and hassle associated with fighting them is rarely considered a worthwhile use of individuals’ time.

While 28 states have chosen to adopt anti­-SLAPP statutes in some form or another, the federal government has yet to adopt its own standard and provide access to this powerful tool to all Americans who seek to stand up for their free-­speech rights.

The SPEAK FREE Act would give defendants across the nation access to a special motion to dismiss SLAPPs, while also staying discovery. This would change the calculus of fighting meritless claims aimed at intimidation and censorship. In addition, the bill would empower courts to shift fees, so that defendants who prevail on an anti-­SLAPP motion would not have to face the otherwise formidable legal costs.”

Read the rest of the letter here.