Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ohio Facilitating SLAPP Suits

On the heels of my recent praise of many states for attempting to contain SLAPP suits, I came across this beauty of a story on PogoWasRight, one of my favorite blogs. To summarize, the state of Ohio is trying to make it such that "people no longer have safe haven to smear Ohio businesses online from other states." In other words, it is trying to remove jurisdictional boundaries to aid Ohio businesses in suing out-of-state citizens who "defame" them.

Aside from the rhetoric in the article being pretty biased -- the author seems to espouse the beliefs of the Ohio Supreme Court from the quote above and his presentation of the article's supporting anecdote -- it is one-sided. I was under the impression that good journalism told both sides of the story. What about the damage this ruling has on free speech? How about the fact that making it easier to sue outside of jurisdictional boundaries could lead to more tactical suits to silence valid claims?

Anyway, article aside, I don't think the legislative system should be looking for more ways to chill free speech on the Internet. Justice Hugo Black is probably rolling over in his grave about this ruling.


jbmoore said...

Since corporations can now donate unlimited amounts of money to candidates trying to get elected, if our legislatures and judicial systems aren't totally bought now, they will be soon. In Texas, judges are elected. Sometimes, it's easier to buy a judge by getting them elected so that they'll rule in your favor on an important issue or rule against your competitor. See this lengthy post by Bill Black:

Perhaps what you are seeing is this theoclassical dogma in action as "pro"-business judges protect their campaign donors, friends, and associates. Simon Singh just won an important libel case in Britain. Here's an interview in Wired:

Chris Mustazza said...

Great point -- and the ultimate irony of this is that the ruling to allow unlimited donations was in the name of the First Amendment!