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We encourage you to support the Speak Free Act

 
ASNE welcomes the introduction of the Speak Free Act, which is Anti-SLAPP legislation sponsored by Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Anna Eshoo (D-California). (Reps. Darrell Issa (R-California), Trent Franks (R-Arizona) and Jared Polis (D-Colorado) are also original co-sponsors of the legislation.).
 

ASNE welcomes the introduction of the Speak Free Act, which is Anti-SLAPP legislation sponsored by Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Anna Eshoo (D-California). (Reps. Darrell Issa (R-California), Trent Franks (R-Arizona) and Jared Polis (D-Colorado) are also original co-sponsors of the legislation.).


Although 
about 30 states currently have Anti-SLAPP laws (SLAPP stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation"), which make it easier to fight back against frivolous lawsuits designed to simply silence critical speech, the absence of these laws is felt in the balance of the states and when lawsuits (often defamation lawsuits) are filed in federal courts. The Speak Free Act is the latest attempt to fill these gaps. We believe this bill will provide important protections for ASNE members on a regular basis and intend to do everything possible to make sure it is enacted. 

 

As Farenthold explains in his press release announcing the bill's introduction, the Speak Free Act is modeled on Texas' relatively recently enacted Anti-SLAPP law. Not only does it provide procedures to accelerate the dismissal of a frivolous lawsuit, but also the deterrent effect of a possible damage award to a victorious defendant. Both provide much needed leverage for a news publication to push back against threatened lawsuits and allow you to "stick to your guns" when you know the story you have written is correctly reported.

 

We really hope that every ASNE member asks his or her representative to support the Speak Free Act and, ideally, to become a co-sponsor. You can contact ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or goldberg@fhhlaw.com for more information about the act or the benefits of Anti-SLAPP laws in general.

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