Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics

Feb 22, 12

Glenn Greenwald recently wrote a piece on Salon, where he discussed the way a billionaire Romney donor has been threatening to bring frivolous lawsuits against his political critics — magazines, journalists, and bloggers.

Greenwald goes on to discuss SLAPPs generally and the work of the Public Participation Project:

“Threatening journalists and bloggers with baseless lawsuits and trying to suppress free debate is a recognized menace. Close to 30 states in the U.S. have adopted so-called anti-SLAPP statutes — designed to punish “strategic lawsuits against public participation” (SLAPP). Those statutes create causes of action against those who abuse the legal system not to vindicate legal rights, but to intimidate and silence critics. Organizations such as The Public Participation Project now exist exclusively to defend those victimized by SLAPP suits or the threat of them. Those anti-SLAPP statutes have repeatedly been used to defeat abusive lawsuits brought to stifle legitimate speech by media outlets and bloggers. As the Project explains: ”such lawsuits turn the justice system into a weapon, and have a serious chilling effect on the free speech that is so vital to the public interest. The lawsuits also cost media organizations thousands of dollars. Even a meritless suit can drag on for months – sometimes even years – and tactics such as aggressive discovery can pile on the costs.” And lawyers — whether working in-house for a corporation or a private law firm — have an independent duty not to threaten frivolous lawsuits for improper ends (Melaleuca did not respond to a message left yesterday for its General Counsel, Ryan Nelson, seeking comment for this article).”

Read the full article here:

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