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Senate unanimously passes libel tourism bill

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  1. Libel and Privacy
The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to approve a bipartisan bill that will protect journalists and authors from libel lawsuits…

The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to approve a bipartisan bill that will protect journalists and authors from libel lawsuits filed overseas.

The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act, known as the SPEECH Act, was co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. It will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“The freedoms of speech and the press are cornerstones of our democracy,” said Sen. Leahy in a release. “They enable vigorous debate, and an exchange of ideas that shapes our political process. Foreign libel lawsuits are undermining this informational exchange. While we cannot legislate changes to foreign law that are chilling protected speech in our country, we can ensure that our courts do not become a tool to uphold foreign libel judgments."

The SPEECH Act would bar federal courts from enforcing a foreign libel judgment against an American journalist, author or publisher if it is inconsistent with the protections afforded by the First Amendment. It would also allow individuals who have a foreign judgment levied against them to demonstrate that it is not enforceable in the United States.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press supported the legislation.