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RCFP urges Ohio lawmakers to pass anti-SLAPP bill

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  1. Libel and Privacy

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging Ohio lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow courts to quickly dismiss frivolous lawsuits aimed at chilling reporting and other speech about matters of public concern.

In written testimony submitted to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on April 22, 2024, the Reporters Committee expressed its strong support for SB237, which would make it harder for powerful parties to silence criticism through expensive, baseless legal proceedings. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws on the books designed to combat such meritless actions — so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP suits. These measures — known as anti-SLAPP laws — include provisions that speed up the process of getting frivolous lawsuits tossed out of court so that journalists and other critics aren’t burdened by costly legal proceedings.

SB237 mirrors the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act, a model anti-SLAPP law that aims to eliminate meritless claims at an early stage. UPEPA has so far been adopted, in whole or in large part, by seven states, including Maine, New Jersey and Hawaii.

“Unflinching journalism is essential to expose wrongdoing and hold powerful public figures and officials to account. Such vital news reporting depends upon journalists’ ability to identify, investigate, and report stories without fear that the subjects of their reporting will target them or their newsroom with costly, meritless litigation,” the Reporters Committee’s testimony states. “SB237 provides those essential protections. We respectfully urge you to pass it.”

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