Good News: Virginia Legislature Passes Anti-SLAPP Law

from the thanks-devin dept

We pointed out recently that Devin Nunes’ ongoing campaign to file vexatious nuisance defamation lawsuits, usually in Virginia (despite being a Congressman from a California farm that is now in Iowa), had helped renew interest in having Virginia finally getting a real anti-SLAPP law. And, thanks in part to Nunes’ suits getting so much attention, the Virginia state legislature has now passed an anti-SLAPP bill:

The Virginia legislature passed bills Tuesday that would make it harder to pursue frivolous lawsuits designed to chill free speech, a response to a string of splashy defamation cases filed in state courts by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), actor Johnny Depp and others.

Free speech advocates cheered the legislation in the House and Senate, saying the state?s weak anti-defamation law has made Virginia a magnet for dubious litigation aimed at punishing critics and blunting aggressive media coverage on topics of public concern.

The details are still being worked out. The House and Senate passed different versions of an anti-SLAPP bill, so they need to be reconciled before a final bill can go to the governor. What ends up in the final bill will be important in seeing how good and effective an anti-SLAPP bill this will be, but it sounds like the basic pieces are all there:

Alison Friedman, of the Protect the Protest task force that is backing the bills, said she is guardedly optimistic about passage.

?Substantively, all the parts for a strong anti-SLAPP bill are there, but half are in the House bill and half are in the Senate bill so it?s really going to come down to conference,? Friedman said.

Of course, we still need a strong federal anti-SLAPP bill to tie all of these together and make sure that anti-SLAPP can be used across the country in federal court (some appeals courts have — with questionable reasoning — argued that state anti-SLAPP laws only apply in state courts).

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Comments on “Good News: Virginia Legislature Passes Anti-SLAPP Law”

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32 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

What do you know, he actually did something good for once

Good to hear, though I imagine Nunes is going to be rather put out that his favorite state for bogus lawsuits is now likely to be a lot less hospitable.

I look forward to seeing him run away like a coward into whatever state he can come up with next, along with whatever laughably pathetic excuse he’ll come up with to explain the change in venue for any future lawsuits.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"It’s interesting that leftists use terms of family as an epithet"

It’s more interesting that self-proclaimed right-wingers are unaware of things like words having different definitions depending on context, or believing that anything they don’t understand is an epithet.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

There’s research showing that leftists care more about odd things like giant birds and whales than their own mothers.

Considering how conservatives/right-wingers think global climate change is a joke/hoax/thing people talk about to dupe rich bastards into selling their waterfront Miami homes, someone has to give a shit about nature.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"This is so incredibly funny for people with any ability to remember anything (exclusively right wing people, it seems)."

The problem is that you people "remember" statements and positions that people don’t actually hold. When you understand things like facts, nuance and have gathered information from non-strawmen, this isn’t actually a surprising position.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, there’s the small matter that Obama had full power, the House, the Senate, and what do you know, himself, plus an entire apparatus of state which backed his every policy, but he did nothing like reform torts, so yes, I think I am well defended here, for sure. Before you say, "maybe he was lazy", they could have perfectly well put it on his desk, and they didn’t, the left, the democrats.

There has emerged the practice of the left to libel, as a form of glossolalia. Thus, tort reform is very much needed for the new left’s ceremony of debauch.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There has emerged the practice of the left to libel

Remind me, who was it that personally insulted the parents of a deceased soldier because they didn’t agree with the president? Who was it that talked about “opening up” libel laws to sue people who said things the president didn’t like? Who is it that consciously and purposefully calls people ridiculous insulting nicknames in an attempt to demean, embarass, and otherwise lessen the people he targets, often saving his most insulting invective for women?

Tell me, who was/is that? Righteous anger can’t blind you to the facts that much. Ultimately, you’ll have to admit the truth. Make the admission. Perhaps you’ll feel better once you do.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sorry to break it to you, but Obama didn’t have full power. He couldn’t even get Obamacare passed in a fully functional form because… Republicans. And that goes for every other progressive change he attempted to make.

So he wasn’t about to open up libel laws, when the Republicans in Congress and Senate had already showed how they could foul up good laws and policies to insert loopholes you could drive a truck through.

I’ve got no skin in this game, and can list many many failings of US Democrats; sometimes they focus on "progressive" and forget about the people. But this is definitely one thing you can’t blame on Obama; the problem on this one has been Republicans in office since Newt Gingrich.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The funniest bit about that "Obamacare" debacle was that republicans authored the bill to begin with and then argued furiously against it once a democrat took up the charge despite it being materially identical to the republican authored bill.

I’m mostly centrist but lean conservative. I refuse to call myself republican simply because the term now means "butthurt little snowflake with an oedipus complex".

OA (profile) says:

Careful

In your first quote of The Washington Post, they mentioned Johnny Depp. I’ve been reading recently that Johnny Depp was slandered by his ex-wife Amber Heard as being an abuser. Apparently, audio was released that proves, in her own words, that she, herself, was the abuser. If I understand correctly the Washington Post was aggressively pushing the original false narrative with Depp as the abuser. Depp is now pursuing at least one defamation lawsuit. The Post may be vulnerable.

The Washington Post mentioning Johnny Depp in this context was dishonest and manipulative. Even innocently, quoting The Post here (or ANY quote, really) without thoughtful caveat potentially helps spread an intended falsehood… So much then for the supposed basic honesty of the mainstream media (or those who give them unearned trust).

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OA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Holy crap! Do you have brain damage?!
Try to follow, please!
I read an article or two or maybe three about Depp and Amber Heard. I relayed that information in the first paragraph. Then, I commented, for myself, in the second paragraph. Get it?
First paragraph: simply states what articles said, including defamation.
Second paragraph: my comments, chastises paper. DOES NOT MENTION OR IMPLY DEFAMATION or ANY legal argument.

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