Public Participation Project
President of the Board
Director at California Anti-SLAPP Project
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President of the Board
I founded the Public Participation Project (PPP) to lead the campaign for federal anti-SLAPP legislation. Today, nearly half the states lack anti-SLAPP laws and state laws do not apply to federal claims in federal court, leaving far too many unprotected in their home states and countless others vulnerable to SLAPP filers who "forum shop". Headquartered in Washington, D.C., PPP has built a coalition of more than 124 organizations, businesses, and individuals in support of the effort, and lobbies for the legislation on Capitol Hill.
Founded by me in 1991, the California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP) is a public interest law firm and policy organization that provides legal assistance and representation to individuals and organizations being SLAPPed in California courts, and engages in policy advocacy in the Legislature to improve the functioning of the anti-SLAPP law.
SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) are lawsuits filed against people or organizations because they have exercised their right to petition the government or speak out on public issues. SLAPPs frequently contain claims for libel, slander, defamation, malicious prosecution, and/or abuse of process.
Specialties:Defending against SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), protecting First Amendment rights to petition the government and speak out on issues of public interest.
Commentators have documented the disturbing use of the courtroom to silence those who speak out on important issues. Too often, parties resort to meritless lawsuits in response to another's free expression or communication with the government. These lawsuits are called SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. In the USA, they have emerged as a significant threat to the rights of expression and petition guaranteed in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. A majority of the US States have passed `anti-SLAPP laws', but there is no uniform protection. The model legislation outlined in this paper is intended to guide those who seek uniform, comprehensive protection against SLAPPs.
There is currently no federal law to provide uniform protection for free speech and petitioning activity throughout the nation. A federal anti-SLAPP law is needed, such as the PETITION Act (“Protecting the Expression and Transmission of Ideas and Thoughts in Our Nation”) currently in the works. The bill is designed to provide nationwide protection against meritless lawsuits filed to intimidate critics and suppress speech on issues of public importance.
A federal law is needed because forum shopping among state courts remains a viable option for litigants seeking to avoid a state’s anti-SLAPP protections. State anti-SLAPP laws do not uniformly apply in federal court under the Erie doctrine, and state anti-SLAPP laws do not apply in federal court to federal causes of action. For stronger First Amendment protections, a federal anti-SLAPP law is needed to fill these gaps.
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