Protect our right to protest: Support Anti-SLAPP Legislation in PA
Under current Pennsylvania law, any person or entity can bring a law suit against another person or organization in response to a position or statement regarding a rule or other matter of public interest, for example, a constituent protesting a vote by their representative. These lawsuits, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or "SLAPP," can have a chilling effect on public policy criticism due to the financial costs of defending against the suit.
Current law allows defendants to counter-sue to recover legal costs in the case of a victory in the lawsuit. However, in many cases, the plaintiff will dismiss the lawsuit before a final judgment has been rendered, but after significant defense costs have been expended, making this particular remedy unavailable.
SB 95 would allow the defendant to file a motion to dismiss the suit earlier in the process; if the motion is successful, the defendant can then sue for costs and damages that resulted from the dismissed suit. To address potential abuse of this clause, there is also a clause whereby the plaintiff can recover costs from a defendant who files a motion to dismiss simply to delay proceedings or for a frivolous reason.
SB 95 is critical protection for our movement to reestablish true democracy in Pennsylvania for all people, and to protect our First Amendment rights. Please use this tool to write your representative today.
Many thanks to the team from PA Empower for their work on this call to action.