New York currently has one of the narrowest anti-SLAPP laws in the country and some legislators are considering amendments to broaden its reach. Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to provide procedural protections for citizen activists, whistleblowers, and others who find themselves on the wrong end of vindictive lawsuits intended to punish them for speaking out on public matters. These laws have been enacted in states across the country in response to stories of moneyed interests filing meritless lawsuits against advocates of opposing interests, leveraging the burdens and costs of litigation as a tool to stifle dissent.
With the single party control of the state legislature and governor’s mansion, this may finally be the year for anti-SLAPP reform in New York. From a relatively narrow statute that now covers only speech concerning certain applications to the government for licenses or other benefits, new legislation would extend the anti-SLAPP law’s reach to nearly any speech that may be characterized as “of public concern.” Under the broad proposed statutory text, the anti-SLAPP law may be invoked by any party against any other party, presumably even in circumstances that other jurisdictions with broad anti-SLAPP laws have carved out of their respective statutes.
Cohen and Borchardt note that practitioners should be aware that if reform passes in New York, anti-SLAPP law will likely be significantly expanded. The question is how far, and whether this overdue reform may bring unintended consequences.
Read more in The New York Law Journal.