Virginia, Stop Getting Slapped
“There ought to be a law,” is not a phrase that slips easily from my keyboard. Generally, I think there are far too many laws and, particularly, too many new laws. Old laws that have long outlived any usefulness are too seldom revisited and removed from the statute books. At the rate we add new laws, one would have to conclude that the human condition has been on a geometrically accelerating downward spiral since the founding of our Republic. I will, however, allow for an exception in the case of a law we do need; its purpose is to prevent public officials from intimidating the public they are supposed to serve by filing abusive lawsuits, against them.
These sorts of lawsuits are aptly named “SLAPP” suits, an acronym that stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” The term was coined by two University of Denver professors, Penelope Canan and George W. Pring, in the 1980’s to refer to abuse of civil process to discourage citizens from exercising their right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. That is, of course, a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Read the full post from the Jefferson Policy Journal here.