April 06, 2020 Feature

Federal Court Renews Hostility Toward Anti-SLAPP Laws

Fifth Circuit adds to split over procedural dismissal standards of anti-SLAPP laws

By Amy Mattson

Defendants who face lawsuits filed in retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights may obtain a speedy dismissal under anti-SLAPP laws on the books in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The laws aim to prevent the use or abuse of strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) that would chill protected speech. But circuit courts are divided as to whether those laws apply in federal court.

The protections of the Texas Citizens Participation Act, Texas's state anti-SLAPP statute, are not available to litigants in federal diversity actions

The protections of the Texas Citizens Participation Act, Texas's state anti-SLAPP statute, are not available to litigants in federal diversity actions

Photo illustration by Elmarie Jara | Edited by Genuine Pyun | Getty Images

In Klocke v. Watson, a three-judge appellate panel unanimously held that the protections of the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), the Lone Star State’s anti-SLAPP statute, are not available to litigants in federal diversity actions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found the TCPA conflicts with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 and 56 governing summary judgment and dismissal motions and therefore cannot be applied in federal court.

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