Why the First Amendment Needs Your Help
Imagine you have a horrible experience at the dentist. When you get home, you go online and give your opinion about the experience on a review site like Yelp. Then imagine that in response to that review, you are hit with a lawsuit from the dentist because she wants to silence her critics and remove all negative reviews of her online.
This is exactly what happened to Jennifer Batoon after the gave a negative Yelp review of dentist Gelareh Rahbar. "I was terrified at the thought of being punished financially for simply posting my opinion online,” said Jennifer. Luckily for Jennifer, California has a strong anti-SLAPP law and she was successful in getting her SLAPP dismissed with the help of the California Anti-SLAPP Project. Jennifer's case was featured in a USA today editorial endorsing federal anti-SLAPP legislation.
However nearly half of US states still do not have anti-SLAPP laws. Those laws that are on the books vary in strength and breadth. This patchwork of state laws allows “forum shopping” by plaintiffs, who can file their SLAPPs in jurisdictions where anti-SLAPP protections are absent or weak. Plaintiffs can also avoid state anti-SLAPP laws by filing a federal claim in federal court, or, in some jurisdictions such as Washington DC, any claim in federal court. Federal anti-SLAPP legislation would protect Americans in all states and at the federal level from SLAPPs.
This is why the Public Participation Project (PPP) is working to enact federal anti-SLAPP legislation. Every day, thousands of Americans are turning to review sites like Yelp to voice their opinions. PPP is fighting to protect your voice and ensure that you are not the target of meritless SLAPPs.
Who We Are
PPP works to protect citizens from lawsuits designed to chill their ability to communicate with their government or speak out on issues of public interest. Such lawsuits, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), pose serious dangers to free expression throughout the country.
We are currently working to pass federal anti-SLAPP legislation in Congress. Our coalition of supporters currently includes numerous organizations and businesses, as well as many prominent individuals. PPP also assists individuals and organizations working to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the states. An important part of our work includes educating the public regarding SLAPPs and the consequences of these types of destructive lawsuits.
For more information on our organization, please visit our website.
Our Progress Thus Far
PPP has been working with both Democratic and Republican members of Congress to develop a federal anti-SLAPP bill that will receive bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Through the leadership and assistance of PPP, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced federal anti-SLAPP legislation (The Citizen Participation Act) in 2009.
Then, in 2012, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced federal anti-SLAPP legislation (The Free Press Act) in the Senate, just prior to his recent retirement.
PPP hopes to build bi-partisan support for strong and robust federal anti-SLAPP legislation and this is why we need a full time legislative director on the ground fighting for us in Washington DC.
Where Your Money Will Go
Your pledge to PPP will help us secure the remaining funds needed to hire a full time legislative director in Washington DC to fight for federal anti-SLAPP legislation. We have been able to secure some private funding, but we are using this campaign to raise the remaining funds needed. Please check out our rewards and make a pledge today, and if you can't afford a pledge, simply spreading the word is also greatly appreciated.