New bill from state Republican ‘should help everybody interested in free speech’

Apr 16, 2021, 1:38 PM
olympia, frivolous lawsuits...
The state Capitol building in Olympia. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Sen. Mike Padden’s (R-Spokane Valley) measure to help protect citizens and whistleblowers and members of the press from frivolous lawsuits will become law, a measure which many believe bolsters free speech rights. The bill essentially reinstates these Anti-SLAPP protections, SLAPP standing for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

“Well, the state Supreme Court in a case called Davis v. Cox ruled our previous Anti-SLAPP law unconstitutional, and that was about four years ago. And we’ve been trying ever since to get something through this year,” Padden told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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“This year we had the benefit of the uniform law commission suggesting a uniform bill — that was the starter, and then it’s made its way through the legislative process and just yesterday was sent off to the governor. So it’s been approved by the House and then it’s up to the governor. Hopefully he will sign it.”

What is an Anti-SLAPP law?

“It’s basically a way to get into court quickly when a lawsuit has been filed against you to basically harass you for exercising your free speech rights. So it’s a benefit to activists from the right or the left,” he said.

“It’s a way to get into court quickly, get these so-called frivolous lawsuits aimed to impinge on your free speech rights, and get them thrown out of court and get reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for doing so,” he continued.

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As Jason noted, the bill could apply protections to situations when a whistleblower points out wrongdoing with a company, at which point the corporation sues in a frivolous way, essentially to stop that person from speaking out, since the person can’t afford to fight back against the corporation.

“Right, it could be a corporation, it could be very wealthy individuals that are on the other side of of the issue,” Padden responded. “I think it really should help everybody who’s interested in free speech and not being harassed by somebody that has more resources to just try to shut you up.”

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New bill from state Republican ‘should help everybody interested in free speech’