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SLAPPing e-Publius: Protecting anonymous expression and reputation in a digital age
Unformatted Document Text:  Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius     32   A national standard modeled on California’s anti-SLAPP statute is recommended here to prevent forum shopping and, specific to the question here, to prevent corporations from suing John Doe defendants in order to force disclosure of their identities and, in forcing disclosure, to silence them. 113 In California, “a cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in the furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike.” 114 Importantly, California’s statute extends the ability to initiate an anti-SLAPP motion to apply to the assertion of a right to remain anonymous. 115 Once an anti-SLAPP motion has been filed in California, discovery is stayed while the defendant shows that the expression in question involves a public issue and was made “in furtherance of the defendant’s right to free speech.” 116 There is no reason to believe that an anti-SLAPP law of this type could not prove effective at the national level. The discrepancy in the options of California defendants                                                                                                                 removal was justified because the permit was not visible and claimed that the Facebook group has hurt its business. Michigan does not have an anti-SLAPP law. The judge’s decision was pending when this paper was written (see SLAPP Happy in America: Defending against meritless lawsuits and the need for a federal bill, T HE N EWS M EDIA & T HE L AW (November 2010), available http://www.rcfp.org/news/mag/34- 4/slapp_happy_in_america_22.html; visited Nov. 24, 2010). The California Anti-SLAPP Project maintains a website cataloging those states with anti-SLAPP statutes and listing those laws’ verbiage: http://www.casp.net/statutes/menstate.html. For the debate on a federal version, see Dan Frosch, Critical Web postings produce spate of retaliatory lawsuits; Some legislators seek to quell tactic seen as a threat to free speech, T HE I NT ’ L H ERALD T RIB . 21 (June 2, 2010); and Sean P. Trende, Defamation, Anti-SLAPP Legislation, and the Blogosphere: New Solutions for an Old Problem, 44 D UQ . L. R EV . 607 (2006).   113 U.S. House Representative Steve Cohen has introduced H.R. 4364, the Citizen Participation Act, a federal anti-SLAPP bill, which states that it is intended “to protect First Amendment rights of petition and free speech by preventing States and the United States from allowing meritless lawsuits arising from acts in furtherance of those rights, commonly called ‘SLAPPs.’” When this paper was written, the bill, introduced in December 2009, was before the House Judiciary Committee, but passage is not imminent. 114 Cal. Civ. Proc. CODE § 425.16(b)(3), author’s emphasis. 115 Sean P. Trende, Defamation, Anti-SLAPP Legislation, and the Blogosphere: New Solutions for an Old Problem, 44 D UQ . L. R EV . 607, 16 (2006), citing Rancho Publ'ns v. Superior Ct., 68 Cal. App. 4th 1538, 1541 (4th Dis. App. Ct. 1999). 116 Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018, 1024 (9th Cir. 2003).

Authors: Carroll, Brian.
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background image
Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius  
 
32  
A national standard modeled on California’s anti-SLAPP statute is recommended 
here to prevent forum shopping and, specific to the question here, to prevent corporations 
from suing John Doe defendants in order to force disclosure of their identities and, in 
forcing disclosure, to silence them.
113
 In California, “a cause of action against a person 
arising from any act of that person in the furtherance of the person’s right of petition or 
free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public 
issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike.”
114
 Importantly, California’s statute 
extends the ability to initiate an anti-SLAPP motion to apply to the assertion of a right to 
remain anonymous.
115
 Once an anti-SLAPP motion has been filed in California, 
discovery is stayed while the defendant shows that the expression in question involves a 
public issue and was made “in furtherance of the defendant’s right to free speech.”
116
 
There is no reason to believe that an anti-SLAPP law of this type could not prove 
effective at the national level. The discrepancy in the options of California defendants 
                                                                                                               
removal was justified because the permit was not visible and claimed that the Facebook group has hurt its 
business. Michigan does not have an anti-SLAPP law. The judge’s decision was pending when this paper 
was written (see SLAPP Happy in America: Defending against meritless lawsuits and the need for a federal 
bill
, T
HE 
N
EWS 
M
EDIA 
&
 
T
HE 
L
AW
 (November 2010), available http://www.rcfp.org/news/mag/34-
4/slapp_happy_in_america_22.html; visited Nov. 24, 2010). The California Anti-SLAPP Project maintains 
a website cataloging those states with anti-SLAPP statutes and listing those laws’ verbiage: 
http://www.casp.net/statutes/menstate.html. For the debate on a federal version, see Dan Frosch, Critical 
Web postings produce spate of retaliatory lawsuits; Some legislators seek to quell tactic seen as a threat to 
free speech
, T
HE 
I
NT
H
ERALD 
T
RIB
.
 
21 (June 2, 2010); and Sean P. Trende, Defamation, Anti-SLAPP 
Legislation, and the Blogosphere: New Solutions for an Old Problem, 44 D
UQ
.
 
L.
 
R
EV
. 607 (2006). 
 
113
 U.S. House Representative Steve Cohen has introduced H.R. 4364, the Citizen Participation Act, a 
federal anti-SLAPP bill, which states that it is intended “to protect First Amendment rights of petition and 
free speech by preventing States and the United States from allowing meritless lawsuits arising from acts in 
furtherance of those rights, commonly called ‘SLAPPs.’” When this paper was written, the bill, introduced 
in December 2009, was before the House Judiciary Committee, but passage is not imminent.  
 
114
 Cal. Civ. Proc. CODE § 425.16(b)(3), author’s emphasis. 
 
115
 Sean P. Trende, Defamation, Anti-SLAPP Legislation, and the Blogosphere: New Solutions for an Old 
Problem, 44 D
UQ
.
 
L.
 
R
EV
. 607, 16 (2006), citing Rancho Publ'ns v. Superior Ct., 68 Cal. App. 4th 1538, 
1541 (4th Dis. App. Ct. 1999). 
 
116
 Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018, 1024 (9th Cir. 2003). 


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