From: The Honorable Blake Farenthold
Sent By:
Bill: H.R. 2304
Date: 6/17/2015

Supported by: Association of Alternative Newsmedia, ASNE, Avvo, California Anti-SLAPP Project, Center for Democracy and Technology, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Copia Institute, CCIA, Consumer Electronics Association, Engine, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, Government Accountability Project, Glassdoor, Horvity & Levy, Internet Association, ITIF, Media Alliance, National Association of Broadcasters, Newspaper Association of America, Niskanen Center, Online News Association, Public Participation Project, Public Knowledge, R Street, Radio Television Digital News Association, Realself, Tech Freedom, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Zenefits
Current cosponsors: Eshoo (co-lead), Issa, Polis, Marino, McGovern, Franks, Forbes
Dear Colleague,
I wanted to share the following letter from a broad coalition of 34 free speech advocacy groups, think tanks, and trade associations endorsing the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015. This legislation would take on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (or SLAPPs) which are frivolous lawsuits often used to chill free speech and intimidate critics. While 28 states have enacted some form of protection against them, many are limited in scope and a recent landmark case casts serious doubt as to whether these protections can apply in federal court.
Because of this federal gap in protection, the patchwork of state laws, and the fact that the modern information economy involves a far greater deal of interstate activity, it has become easier for bad actors to venue shop for favorable courts that will not dismiss their suits or let them drag on until the purpose of silencing speech is accomplished.This not only has a chilling effect on free speech to the detriment of our civil liberties, but also hurts companies that rely on public engagement or public speech both online and in traditional media.
The SPEAK FREE Act is modeled after the widely praised CA and TX laws and is structured not to pre-empt state laws so that a defendant can choose which anti-SLAPP protection they want to use. Generally, the bill provides:
A motion to dismiss the claim early in the process upon showing it is a SLAPP suit and the case cannot succeed on the merits;
An expedited hearing schedule by the court;
The right to appeal a denial of the motion immediately;
Delayed discovery proceedings until the SLAPP determination has been made;
The ability to remove to federal court if the claim is in a state court with weaker First Amendment protections
Which passes Article III muster as the defense is implicitly based upon the US Constitution
The ability for a 3rd party to quash information sought in connection with a suit upon making the same showing in (1)
Click here for more coverage of the SPEAK FREE Act by Consumerist, TechDirt, Popehat, and more. For any questions or to cosign H.R. 2304 the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015, please email or call x57742.
Blake Farenthold

Dear Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Franks, and Ranking Member Cohen:
Every year, many Americans are sued for speaking out on issues they feel are important to express. And these lawsuits don’t discriminate – they include consumers expressing dissatisfaction through an online review site, individuals who are simply voicing their opinions about events taking place in their communities and even American journalists reporting on matters of public concern. These lawsuits are called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and they are used to censor and intimidate critics through legal action.
Different laws and rules separately govern the federal and state legal systems. Thus, a federal anti-SLAPP law would protect defendants sued in federal court. Importantly, it would also allow state court cases to be transferred to federal court so defendants can take advantage of the federal law’s speech protections. This is critical for state court defendants in the 22 states that are currently unprotected by anti-SLAPP laws, and in states with weak anti-SLAPP laws that do not do enough to protect speech.
SLAPPs stifle public debate, threaten news reporting and diminish civic engagement – principles fundamental to our democracy. Every American is at risk for future litigation. That is why we are joining together to express our support for the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015 (H.R. 2304). This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold and Rep. Anna Eshoo, strengthens First Amendment protections while bolstering the information economy that thrives on open public discourse and civic participation.
The SPEAK FREE Act will allow federal courts to determine whether a lawsuit targeting speech is a SLAPP and dismiss any bogus claims unless the plaintiff can show that the suit would succeed on the merits. It also includes important fee-shifting provisions that protect defendants who prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion from having to pay the staggering legal fees, fees that have bankrupted countless defendants who were forced to defend themselves against meritless lawsuits. The legislation was carefully drafted to respect and maintain the difficult balance of protecting citizens’ free speech while avoiding overly punitive measures so as not to deter the filing of valid lawsuits and ensure every deserving party gets their day in court.
The SPEAK FREE Act would be a nationwide backstop to stop SLAPPs from stifling free speech. We encourage you to advance this bipartisan legislation as swiftly as possible.
(Cosigners listed at top)