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SLAPPed by RICO: Corporations Punishing Social Activism

January 2018

Robert Sprague


This article traces the development and effect of state Anti-SLAPP laws. It emphasized that state anti-SLAPP suits can be systematically overturned through existing federal law. Because of this, procedures to discourage these meritless lawsuits do not fully exist yet. Until Congress and the President can approve a federal statute that would end these types of lawsuits against social activists, state anti-SLAPP legislation can only do so much. The article discusses these concerns to provide an analysis of how the U.S. federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) can overturn state policy that protects against SLAPP legislation by treating social activism as a crime. It analyzes different legal cases and their effects under federal law and concludes by providing an analysis of the effects of a federal anti-SLAPP statute if it was put into action.

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Policy Implications

Policy implications include creating a federal anti-SLAPP law that would be applicable to federal law claims raised in court, such as RICO to overturn the abuse of these federal laws. Also, counterbalance RICO incentives by using attorney fees and costs to alleviate SLAPP suits.

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