Why we need federal anti-SLAPP

From Sasha Moss at R Street:

Donald Trump has promised that if he becomes president, he’s going to “open up those libel laws so when The New York Times writes a hit piece we can sue them and win money.” To date, he’s already filed six libel suits. Highlights include his recent suit against Timothy O’Brien, author of “Trump Nation,” for asserting his net worth isn’t as high as Trump claimed it is, and toward comedian Bill Maher, who requested Trump prove he’s not the “spawn of an orangutan.”

And lucky No. 7 may be against the NYT.  Today Trump and his lawyers claimed a story about two women who allege sexual assault by the candidate amounted to defamation – a libel claim, to be specific. His lawyers sent a demand letter to the Times this morning.

The type of legal action Trump’s lawyers have filed easily could be classified as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” or a “SLAPP.” SLAPPs do exactly what they say: stifle free speech. The most common sort of SLAPP suits in the modern age are those filed by business owners against patrons who negatively review them on websites like Yelp.

Read more here.