Colorado's Governor Jared Polis Signs Strong Anti-SLAPP Law And Blocks Damaging Licensing Restrictions

from the keep-it-up,-gov dept

When Jared Polis was in Congress, he was one of the (tragically few) reliably good, principled voices on topics that were important to us here at Techdirt: copyright, patents, encryption and more. Now that he's governor in Colorado, it appears he continues to do good things. First up, he's signed an excellent new anti-SLAPP law modeled on California's gold standard anti-SLAPP law. As we've discussed at length over the years, anti-SLAPP laws are a key tool in protecting free speech. They do this in two key ways: by ending bogus lawsuits designed to silence critics by enabling a court to toss them out very quickly (before they get too involved) and (importantly) making it much easier to make the plaintiffs in such cases pay the legal expenses of the defendants they sued. These laws have been in place in about half of the states so far, and they've been incredibly useful in deterring lawsuits that have no merit, but are filed entirely to burden the defendants with costs and general chilling effects of being dragged to court.

Colorado joins nearly 30 states that have adopted measures to curb what are called strategic lawsuits against public participation. Witnesses testified during the legislative session about how they’d been sued for libel or slander simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.

The new law allows a citizen to seek an immediate stay of such a lawsuit by arguing it’s motivated by the citizen’s exercise of First Amendment rights. A higher court can order immediate dismissal of the lawsuit, and plaintiffs can be held liable for court costs and attorneys’ fees.

Democratic Reps. Lisa Cutter and Shannon Bird and Sen. Michael Foote sponsored the bill, which was modeled after a longstanding California statute that is considered one of the nation’s toughest.

On another issue we've talked about, ridiculous occupational licensing laws that go way beyond any "public safety" reason to just block out competition and limit the competitiveness of markets, Polis has responded by vetoing a bill to increase occupational licenses in Colorado. This was a bill pushed by members of his own party, so it's good to see Polis push back on it. His veto statement is worth reading.

Before any unregulated occupation is to be regulated, or any regulated occupation is to be continued, the state should complete its due diligence to ensure that regulation will, in fact, ensure consumer safety in a cost-efficient manner. This bill does not meet that threshold.

As we have previously noted, occupational licensing is not always superior to other forms of consumer protection. Too often it is used to protect existing professional within an occupation against competition from newcomers entering that occupation. Meanwhile, according to the 2019 Current Population Survey, 24 percent of the national workforce is licensed, up from below five percent in the 1950s. Licensing in the United States over the years has at times prevented minorities and the economically disadvantaged from having the ability to access occupations. When the supply of professionals is restricted, the cost of services increases and the poorest among us lose the ability to access these services.

There's a lot more in the statement, but that's the crux of it.

Kudos to Governor Polis. Keep it up.

Filed Under: anti-slapp, colorado, consumer protection, free speech, jared polis, occupational licensing


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Ever Decreasing Circles, 7 Jun 2019 @ 2:20pm

    SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

    Not for, say, videos of Hulk Hogan. That is the de facto state of law. I remind that you are now PROVEN wrong: Gawker is no more after violating common law principles.

    SLAPP exists at least in part because allows weaponizing attacks against "political opponents", which can make any and every sort of unsupported and unsubstantiable allegation. Like, say, 30 years ago a candidate for or person nominated to a high office did something for which zero evidence exists and no visible harm can be shown. Or, "colluded with Russia", though collusion isn't illegal and no can state ANY details of such.

    That of course is technique which Masnick approves of, not least because (real) "conservatives" almost by definition cannot use the tactic. Smear and innuendo are classic weapons of especially "the left", but authoritarians of every kind. Decent people are highly vulnerable. We definitely don't need any more laws from commie-libs which legalize drugs and support unlimited immigration, two loony "libertarian" notions that are sure to destroy the country.

    When the supply of professionals is restricted, the cost of services increases and the poorest among us lose the ability to access these services.

    Just words to build false credibilty. A true Libertarian doesn't want ANY legislated monopoly, from lawyers to baseball. But masnicks don't get anywhere first principles because LIKE the existing order, which they were born into at top, didn't earn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Igualmente69 (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 2:35pm

      Re: SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

      Lots o' trollin'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 7 Jun 2019 @ 2:43pm

      Re: SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

      So, how much do you get paid to shit-post here?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 3:24am

        Re: Re: SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

        Dont think he gets paid. it's his mental illness driving him to shitpost everywhere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:00pm

      Re: SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

      lol - wut?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Qwertygiy, 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:01pm

      Gawker vs. Hulk Hogan is a terrible case to make your point about.

      The original lawsuit included claims that Gawker violated copyright by publishing the video. These were thrown out, and if that was all it was about, it would have been covered by an anti-SLAPP law.

      But that was not all it was about. It was about a person being recorded without their knowledge, where the recording was published with the intent to harm their reputation, without the recording itself being newsworthy. (That's according to Gawker's CEO himself during the trial, an important point to make here. The person publishing it didn't claim it had any value as news to the public.) This leans very close to topics like revenge porn.

      Anti-SLAPP provisions are in no way protecting revenge porn. They protect you from being run into bankruptcy because you said "I don't like Joe Arpaio because he was a bad sheriff" and Joe Arpaio's feelings were so hurt he decided to sue you for it, and you had to take days off of work to go to court and pay court fees and defend yourself, and quite possibly hire a lawyer to defend yourself too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:22pm

      Somebody’s mad about Brett Kavanaugh being accused of sexual assault. He’s on the Supreme Court already, man. Let it go.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 4:14pm

      Re: SLAPP should only extend to substantive matters.

      real) "conservatives" almost by definition cannot use the tactic.

      Tell that to Aaron Worthing & co.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Qwertygiy, 7 Jun 2019 @ 2:42pm

    It appears these articles may not be fully correct.

    1,500 hours of education to become a barber? That's ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous. 1,500 hours is 260 days, if you're studying 40 hours a week! For what, "don't run with scissors" and "don't pour hair dye in people's eyes"?

    It's 50 hours of education. Fifty, not fifteen hundred. 50 credit hours in an approved college course. https://www.barber-license.com/colorado/

    That's still a lot; in North Carolina, to become a locksmith -- where the knowledge you learn can be a lot more serious than "don't poke people's eyes out" and a lot more arcane than "use detangling spray on curly hair" -- you just have to pass an exam, and then whenever you need to renew your license, you need to have taken 16 hours of education courses over three years.

    But 50 hours is far, far, far more reasonable than 1,500. I really want to see where reason.com came up with that number.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      hegemon13, 7 Jun 2019 @ 2:58pm

      Re:

      50 credit hours. That's a LOT more than 50 hours. 1 college credit hour is generally 1 classroom hour per week for a semester. And a general rule is to assume 1 hour of outside work per week per credit hour. So, 15 weeks in a college semester x 50 credit hours = 750 classroom hours. Double for the the 1 hour per week per credit hour of study/homework time, and there's your 1500 hours. Reason.com is spot-on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Qwertygiy, 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:17pm

        It took me a while to work it out and compare with other sources to verify, but your math does seem to add up. Some places even have a credit equal 2 hours of homework to 1 hour of classroom time.

        So it would seem I was mistaken: it is, in fact, Colorado which has made the ludicrous miscalculation about how difficult it is to learn how to use a pair of scissors.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      50 credit hours does not equal 50 hours. 1 credit hour typically requires 13-15 hours of in-class instruction plus a roughly equal amount of homework. 50 credit hours is between 1300 and 1500 hours of study.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 10 Jun 2019 @ 9:07am

      Re:

      to become a locksmith -- where the knowledge you learn can be a lot more serious than "don't poke people's eyes out"

      ...getting my house broken into or having my eyes jabbed out ain't a great choice, but you and I seem to disagree on which one of those is "more serious".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 3:18pm

    licensed quackery

    It seems kind of odd that someone would need to be state-licensed to practice any of the various fields of harmless medical quackery, but hey, if you feel better going to a proper reflexologist rather than an unlicensed reflexologist who might be massaging the soles of your feet all wrong, well then, you can thank the state for giving you that peace of mind.

    Professions that push for licensing of its members may not realize that this can have a very dark side. While these licenses generally start out with only a nominal fee, there's nothing preventing future state governments from exploiting license renewals as a revenue source and hiking fees to painful levels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 5:14pm

      Re: licensed quackery

      It seems kind of odd that someone would need to be state-licensed to practice any of the various fields of harmless medical quackery

      But that is a good marketing aid, we have the stamp of approval from the state on our practices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 9:18pm

      Re: licensed quackery

      Reflexology has benefits. Unless you think the body has wireless communication, there is a direct connection between the extremeties and the brain.

      Not saying that it rises to the level of big-pharma medicine, but these practices do have their place. Regulating them isn't a bad idea.

      Some have said that the original purpose of regulation was to keep minorities and women out of fields.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 11:20am

      Re: licensed quackery

      Yeah - and that brain surgeon doesn't need to be licensed either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 6:34pm

    Those ridiculous requirements to become a licensed attorney have to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 6:43pm

    The original purpose for licensing attorneys was so that the illiterate had representation from those who were literate in court. Lawyers registered much the way any businessperson does.

    Many nonattorneys can handle many types of cases, and are even allowed to in many cases (some evictions, for example). That should be expanded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2019 @ 9:16pm

    SLAPP laws can be used to deter defamation lawsuits by targets of defamation. They are a windfall for attorneys, not something that really helps free speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 10:26pm

      Defamation lawsuits filed in bad faith to chill someone’s speech would get shut down by anti-SLAPP laws. Defamation lawsuits filed in good faith would not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 4:34am

        Re:

        Defamation lawsuits filed in bad faith to chill someone’s speech would get shut down by anti-SLAPP laws. Defamation lawsuits filed in good faith would not.

        Someone who is defamed can easily be threatened with a SLAPP motion. The risk to even a "good" case can be just as chilling. Lawyers who file SLAPP motions are the only ones who can profit. Anyone sued will call just about anything a SLAPP. The Hulk Hogan case certainly wasn't btw.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 8:12am

          Re: Re:

          [Asserts facts not in evidence, logic, or sense]

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:51am

          A threat does not guarantee victory. If the case is worth hearing in court, it will survive a SLAPP motion.

          Anti-SLAPP laws do not prevent defamation lawsuits from being filed. They prevent shitty lawsuits filed as a way to silence critics from being used that way. If you dislike anti-SLAPP laws, ask yourself why you want nobody to have protection from strategic lawsuits against public participation.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 9:40am

            Re:

            A wealthy defendant (say the owner of a car company) can call anything a SLAPP, which might allow this theoretical CEO to get away with calling a theoretical rescue diver a theoretical name.

            The theoretical rescue diver could face SLAPP penalties.

            In fact, someone trying to overturn 230 could be chilled by a SLAPP threat.

            It may be better to let defendants weaponize the system rather than plaintiffs, but the system is still weaponized. SLAPP laws just change who can weaponize it. Either way, the attorneys make out very well.

            A SLAPP can be met with a motion to dismiss rather effectively, and Rule 11 sanctions if it's truly a SLAPP.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 9:52am

              Re: Re:

              A theoretical poster (say one that is completely out of their mind) can call anything whatever they want and it makes no difference to anyone except themselves. So when they think they are a CEO, they will have trouble theoretically rescuing a diver ... see, it makes total sense doesn't it?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jun 2019 @ 10:18am

              …goddammit, Elon, put down your phone.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 5:53am

              Re: Re:

              A wealthy defendant (say the owner of a car company) can call anything a SLAPP

              Are you under the impression that the defendant gets to decide if it's a SLAPP or not? The judge decides that. Yes, the defendant can claim it's a SLAPP, and then if the judge decides the case has any merit, it can still proceed. So what is the problem with that? You want meritless lawsuits to go on longer? Why?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re:

          Someone who is accused of defamation can be easily threatened in the absence of SLAPP laws. The monetary requirements of defending ones self against the onslaught of troll brigade madness is more than chilling as it can bankrupt most who attempt it. Those who claim SLAPP laws are bad are not thinking of the general public, they are thinking of the poor corporations and all those really bad things people say about them. Even when the claims are spot on, these people will continue to promote their lies and claim they are badly hurt by the words spoken.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 9:38am

            Rule 68 works just fine as a "SLAPP"

            All SLAPP laws do is allow defendants rather than plaintiffs to weaponize defamation, by committing it and then chilling any potential lawsuits by turning into a high-stakes gamble.

            BTW anyone who wants to collect attorney fees in a defamation action they defend can just make a rule 68 offer of $5 and if they win, they get fees past the offer.

            A SLAPP action should never survive a motion for dismiss or early Rule 50/56 motion, so Rule 68 already offers fees to those who prevail.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 9:57am

              Re: Rule 68 works just fine as a "SLAPP"

              How does an innocent person weaponize defamation?
              Are you suggesting that everyone is guilty until proven innocent?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 2:10pm

              Re: Rule 68 works just fine as a "SLAPP"

              You can't weaponize anti-SLAPP laws in the manner in which you claim. At all.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 5:54am

              Re: Rule 68 works just fine as a "SLAPP"

              All SLAPP laws do is allow defendants rather than plaintiffs to weaponize defamation, by committing it and then chilling any potential lawsuits by turning into a high-stakes gamble.

              So you can point to all the cases where this happens in California, right? They have a strong anti-SLAPP law and tens of millions of people; it should happen all the time.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 5:20pm

        Re:

        And what magic wand will we wave to make sure that's the case? Or maybe we can sacrifice a virgin to Crom to gain his truthtelling abilities?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 4:17pm

    Hint hint...

    These laws have been in place in about half of the states so far, and they've been incredibly useful in deterring lawsuits that have no merit, but are filed entirely to burden the defendants with costs and general chilling effects of being dragged to court.

    Now take the best of the lot, and create a federal version and that'll be great. No need to do it one by one as various states finally admit that the court system has been weaponized and is being abused on a regular basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2019 @ 5:06pm

      Re: Hint hint...

      I have it on good authority that anyone who disagrees with the above, particularly a public figure, is a complete and irredeemable moron who was breastfed well into double-digit age and has a crippling inferiority complex. Facts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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