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Understanding Anti-SLAPP laws

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  1. Policy
What is Anti-SLAPP?

Short for strategic lawsuits against public participation, SLAPPs have become an all-too-common tool for intimidating and silencing criticism through expensive, baseless legal proceedings.

Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to provide a remedy to SLAPP suits. Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights. In terms of reporting, news organizations and individual journalists can use anti-SLAPP statutes to protect themselves from the financial threat of a groundless defamation case brought by a subject of an enterprise or investigative story.

Under most anti-SLAPP statutes, the person sued makes a motion to strike the case because it involves speech on a matter of public concern. The plaintiff then has the burden of showing a probability that they will prevail in the suit — meaning they must show that they have evidence that could result in a favorable verdict. If the plaintiff cannot meet this burden and the suit is dismissed through anti-SLAPP proceedings, many statutes allow defendants to collect attorney’s fees from the plaintiff.

Anti-SLAPP Stories

State-by-State Resources

View the Reporters Committee’s Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide.

Recent Anti-SLAPP Updates

2019-06-03: Colorado became 31st state with anti-SLAPP protections

2019-06-02: Texas modified its existing anti-SLAPP law

2019-04-23: The Tennessee legislature amended an anti-SLAPP statute that significantly strengthens the state’s anti-SLAPP protections. Effective July 1, 2019, the new Tennessee Public Participation Act allows defendants to file a motion to dismiss a SLAPP suit before the costly discovery process begins, appeal the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion, and recover attorney’s fees if a court rules in their favor. The new law is largely based on Texas’ anti-SLAPP statute.