Here is what the Public Participation Project, the group behind the proposed bill, HR 4364 has to say:
Regardless of who is speaking and who is suing, everyone is losing when SLAPPs are allowed to continue. These meritless lawsuits clog the courts, waste resources and contribute to a general culture of litigousness. Instead of answering speech with speech, SLAPP filers answer speech with subpoenas and spurious claims.
SLAPPs frequently end in settlement, conditioned on silence, apology or retraction, so important ideas are excised from the debate, and critical information – about health, safety, economic security, civil rights and liberties, and government abuse – is withheld from the public. Would-be participants in public life see the devastating effects of lawsuits – on life savings, employment, reputation and even staying insured – and think twice before speaking out.
Judge Nicholas Colabella, Jr., famously said of SLAPPs that a greater threat to First Amendment rights can scarcely be imagined. SLAPPs chip away at the will and ability to speak out, person by person, group by group, issue by issue. James Madison cautioned that “there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations,” and his words ring true in the SLAPP context.
Agreed. See also poor Justin Kurtz’s battle with a soft-skinned tow truck company owner here.