September 15, 2022, Washington, D.C.–Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin introduced legislation to protect the First Amendment rights of concerned citizens, journalists, and activists by ending the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).
The SLAPP Protection Act comes days after EarthRights International released research showing that the fossil fuel industry has targeted more than 150 people and organizations with SLAPPs and related tactics over the past ten years. The fossil fuel industry is not alone in its use of SLAPPs but stands out for the brazenness and scale of its attacks.
EarthRights Senior Policy Advisory Kirk Herberston issued the following statement:
“We applaud Rep. Raskin for standing up for the First Amendment rights of people across the political spectrum who want to participate in public debates about issues that are important to their communities. This bill will provide critical protections for environmental activists. As public concern about climate change grows, the fossil fuel industry has retaliated against its critics with lawsuits intended to silence and intimidate. But environmental activists aren’t terrorists, and the law is not a weapon to be wielded by the rich and powerful. Those who exercise their fundamental rights to speak up about matters of public interest should not have to face judicial harassment or physical violence.
“People should be allowed to speak out and challenge the fossil fuel industry without fear of retaliation. We’re grateful that Congress is taking steps to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans. This legislation is an important step in that direction. We urge Congress to pass it and for President Biden to sign it into law.”
Kate Fried, EarthRights International