Massachusetts: PPP Supports H2263 and S756

This morning, the Public Participation Project submitted the below letter to the Massachusetts’ Judicial Committee in support of H2263 and S756, an anti-SLAPP bill currently before the Massachusetts House and Senate.   Here is the full text of that letter:

September 12, 2017

The Honorable Claire Cronin
Chairwoman, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133

The Honorable William Brownsberger
Chairman, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House, Room 504
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Chairwoman Cronin/ Chairman Brownsberger:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Public Participation Project (PPP) to respectfully request that two bills looking to strengthen the Commonwealth's Anti-SLAPP laws, H 2263 and S 756, receive a favorable report from the committee.    

PPP is a non-profit organization working to pass federal anti-SLAPP legislation in Congress.  Its coalition of supporters currently includes numerous organizations and businesses, as well as prominent individuals, each of whom is dedicated to protecting the right of free speech and petition.  PPP also assists individuals and organizations working to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the states, and those looking to strengthen their anti-SLAPP laws, as is currently happening in Massachusetts.  

An important part of its work includes educating the public regarding SLAPPs and the consequences of these types of destructive lawsuits.  As part of its nationwide educational efforts, PPP seeks to advance generally the principles of free speech and petition as embodied in the First Amendment.  

PPP is very excited and encouraged to see these two bills that broaden and strengthen your current anti-SLAPP law.  Working with our coalition of supporters of strong anti-SLAPP legislation, PPP developed a scorecard for state anti-SLAPP laws across the country:

As you can see, Massachusetts currently has a “C” on our scorecard because of the narrow scope of your existing anti-SLAPP law.  The scope of your current anti-SLAPP is very limited, as it only applies to “a party’s exercise of its right of petition,” thereby limiting anti-SLAPP motions to speech “made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislation, executive or judicial body, or any other governmental proceeding.”  

H 2263 and S 756 expand the scope of Fist Amendment activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute to include “a party’s exercise of its right of petition, or of its rights of freedom of speech or freedom of expression in connection with any matter of public concern.” 

This change would surely put you among the ranks of states with great anti-SLAPP laws that provide strong protections for First Amendment activities within your state.  It will send a clear and strong message to all of those in Massachusetts that you strongly value and respect their rights of free speech and petition activity.  

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss further.

Thank you for your your attention to these important bills. 


Evan Mascagni
Policy Director
Public Participation Project