Short-circuiting Lawsuits Intended to Intimidate
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are a way for individuals who do business with the government to silence their critics through costly lawsuits.
In many states, there are no protections from frivolous defamation suits for private individuals who exercise their First Amendment right to speak out against the government.
SLAPPs are costly and time-consuming and most people can not afford to spend the money or years in court. The result is a silencing of critics and a quelling of public debate.
More than two dozens states have sought to extend greater protection to this sort of public involvement, passing Anti-SLAPP laws which allow public critics to prevent or put an early end to costly and frivolous defamation suits.
Based on legislative work by the Society of Professional Journalists, IJ’s model Anti-SLAPP legislation is designed to improve existing laws and enact new laws to help combat frivolous litigation that puts citizens in fear of being unjustly punished in exercising their First Amendment right.
IJ’s model Anti-SLAPP legislation guarantees vigorous protection of the rights of free speech and petition by providing a wide range of coverage with meaningful tools to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Where enacted, this model legislation will help to ensure the public’s exercise of its rights remain free from the threat of vexatious litigation.