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April 2016 Archives

Proposed Federal Anti- SLAPP Legislation -- Is "Big" Media Trying to Repress the Rights of Everyone to Sue for Defamation by Seeking Nationwide Legislation that Purports to Protect Ordinary People but is Really for Big Media?

On May 13, 2015, The SPEAK FREE ACT of 2015, H.R. 2034, was introduced in the House of Representatives. The SPEAK FREE ACT is intended "to create a special motion to dismiss strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP suits)." This Bill was introduced in Congress less than a month after the Court in Abbas v. Foreign Policy Grp., LLC, 783 F.3d 1328 (D.C. Cir. 2015), ruled that the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act, a statute designed to make it more difficult (some would argue impossible) to go to trial against a powerful media defendant in a defamation case, cannot be applied in Federal Court. This decision was a significant blow to the powerful media interests in the U.S.-what could be called "Big Media." Every major media defendant in the country (27 in all) banded together to file as amici curiae in support of the media defendants against Mr. Abbas's position that he should be entitled to his day in court under the federal rules of civil procedure. The decision created a conflict in the Circuits that one would have expected Big Media to take to the Supreme Court.