Policy Primer: Anti-SLAPP legislation and the 1st Amendment
Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are a tool often used to intimidate or silence critics with expensive legal proceedings. Governments, companies, or individuals may use lawsuits, or even the threat of a lawsuit, to punish those who have exercised their First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs do not file SLAPP suits with any intention to win them. Anti-SLAPP laws aim to prevent these unnecessary and often costly lawsuits that have no objective other than to waste opponents’ money and to intimidate them, especially as these lawsuits can have a chilling effect on constitutionally-protected speech. However, anti-SLAPP legislation must be tailored to allow legitimate lawsuits to continue, while preventing abuses of the system.
cross-state comparisons and recommendations for reform
The American system of government is a calculated structure of limited and separate governmental powers. In times of emergency, however, it may be necessary for a Governor or local chief executive to have greater power and flexibility in order to respond effectively to a specific set of events. All 50 states have acknowledged these unique needs with statutes that allow Governors to declare an emergency and operate with certain emergency powers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to country-wide declarations of emergency unlike ever before in modern American history. In light of these unique circumstances, there is an equally unique opportunity to examine state statutes that govern declarations of emergency and to propose reforms.