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SLAPPing Accountability Out of the Public Sphere

August 2018

Daniel Murphy, Lee Moerman


This paper investigated the disruption to civic accountability by strategic corporate action in the form of SLAPP suits. The use of SLAPPs by corporations is dangerous to civic accountability because it has the potential of acquiring full political control over public discourse. This paper showed how corporations utilize these policies to prevent the public from expressing opposition to corporate behavior. Through strategically organized limitations, corporations impose control over public political discussion and protest. This is examined throughout the paper’s use of legal SLAPP cases. Through these investigations, the paper applies Jürgen Habermas’ theory of communicative action and the “public sphere,” to explore how SLAPPs function within a participatory democratic space and how they result in a “crisis of legitimacy” because of the ways in which they are able to exploit the legal system through SLAPP suits.

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Policy Implications

Create Ant-SLAPP laws that prohibit corporations from suing individuals who choose to speak out against them.

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