A SLAPP Suit –– The Bully’s Weapon Against Democracy:
This Blog is dedicated to supporting the Citizens Participation Act, passed into law in 2011 in Texas.
Citizen participation is the heart of our democracy. Whether petitioning the government, writing a traditional news article, or commenting on the quality of a business, the involvement of citizens in the exchange of ideas benefits our society.
Yet frivolous lawsuits aimed at silencing those involved in these activities are becoming more common, and are a threat to the growth of our society. The Internet age has created a more permanent and searchable record of public participation as citizen participation in democracy grows through self-publishing, citizen journalism and other forms of speech. Unfortunately, abuses of the legal system, aimed at silencing these citizens, have also grown. These lawsuits are called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or “SLAPP” suits.
The Solution: The Citizens Participation Act:
The Citizens Participation Act was signed into law on June 17, 2011. The Texas Citizens Participation Act allows defendants who are sued as a result of exercising their right to free speech or their right to petition the government to file a motion to dismiss the suit, at which point the plaintiff would be required to show by clear and specific evidence that he had a genuine case for each essential element of the claim.
In addition, if the motion to dismiss is granted, the plaintiff who has wrongly brought the lawsuit may be required to pay attorney’s fees of the defendant. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have passed similar acts, most commonly known as either “Anti-SLAPP” laws or “Citizen Participation Acts” that allow defendants in such cases to dismiss cases earlier than would otherwise be possible, thus limiting the cost and fees. Texas’ Anti-SLAPP law is among the strongest in the country
Texans are proud participants in their government and in their community. To those who would prevent Texans from petitioning their government and exercising their right to free speech Texas has said: Don’t mess with free speech in Texas.
SLAPP Suits in Texas:
Prior to the Act being passed in Texas, there were countless examples of Texans being harassed for speech and other First Amendment activity. Click here for examples of SLAPP suits in Texas.