Federal anti-SLAPP law needed ASAP

FPF Logo for circles

Promoting press freedom in the 21st century

Dear Friend of Press Freedom,

Here are some of the most important stories we’re following from the U.S. and around the world. If you enjoy reading this newsletter, please forward it to friends and family. If someone has forwarded you this newsletter, please subscribe here.

A baseless lawsuit by Elon Musk's X and other frivolous legal actions that followed led to a round of recent layoffs at Media Matters. "Elon Musk" by dmoberhaus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Get Notified. Take Action.

Federal anti-SLAPP law needed ASAP

Recent baseless lawsuits against liberal and conservative outlets show the need for a federal law counteracting strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs, Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) Deputy Director of Advocacy Caitlin Vogus wrote for The Hill.

As Vogus wrote, "Many states — both red and blue — have made clear that they want to protect their citizens’ freedom of speech from meritless litigation. It’s time for Congress to act to ensure that federal courts don’t thwart those protections. It’s time to pass a federal anti-SLAPP law."

You can read Vogus’s op-ed here. Her point is driven home by news last week that Media Matters was forced to lay off 12 employees largely due to frivolous lawsuits driven by Elon Musk. Our statement in response to that development called it “the latest example of billionaires and pandering politicians abusing the legal system to retaliate against their critics and harm the public’s right to know.”

11 years after Snowden revelations, surveillance continues expanding

This week marked 11 years since Edward Snowden — a longtime board member of FPF — blew the whistle on mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

But this year, the uphill battles against surveillance and to protect whistleblowers like Snowden encountered some serious setbacks, like the alarming expansion of Section 702 of FISA. As Snowden himself put it, "In my opinion no country that has something like this to enter into force can still be considered to be free."

We wrote on our website about why we must “remember the sense of alarm we felt when Snowden showed us the scope of the government’s illegal surveillance of Americans and we should continue fighting back, even more aggressively than in 2013.”

Authorities must drop case against Oregon journalist

A coalition of press freedom groups led by FPF sent a letter to Oregon’s Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, demanding that he drop a criminal trespass charge against Portland photojournalist Alissa Azar.

Azar was covering a pro-Palestinian protest at Portland State University on May 2, 2024, when officers shoved her to the ground and arrested her, despite her press credentials from the National Press Photographers Association. The case is particularly alarming in Portland, given that a federal appellate court specifically upheld the rights of journalists there to cover protests even after crowd dispersals.

Read the full letter and our statement on our website.

What we’re reading

On today’s arrests at the president’s office (The Stanford Daily). A Stanford Daily student reporter was arrested while covering a pro-Palestinian protest. California law and the First Amendment require authorities to drop the case immediately.

Reinvigorating diplomacy: Global tensions and press freedom (Project Censored). FPF Advocacy Director Seth Stern joined the Project Censored radio show to discuss the need to pass the PRESS Act, the federal bill to protect journalist-source confidentiality.

Foot-dragging in Marion raid investigation should fill public with dread (Kansas Reflector). "It took the Warren Commission 300 days to investigate the assassination of John Kennedy. It now appears it will take at least 314 days to investigate what happened in our newsroom," said Eric Meyer of the Marion County Record. The delay is unacceptable.

These strange bedfellows want SCOTUS to remind the 5th Circuit that journalism is not a crime (Reason). The cops and prosecutors who went after journalist Priscilla Villarreal for soliciting information from public officials shouldn’t be able to hide behind qualified immunity. Groups on the right and the left agree: This is a matter of basic press freedom.

Donate to support press freedom

Your support is more important than ever.

Read more about Advocacy News

States keep public in dark

A full-fledged assault on transparency is underway in the states. Recent changes to public records laws in New Jersey, Louisiana, and Utah are making it harder for journalists and the public to find out what government officials are up to.

Sen. Durbin, advance the PRESS Act

Sen. Dick Durbin has a rare chance to strengthen freedom of the press right now by advancing the bipartisan PRESS Act, a bill to protect journalist-source confidentiality at the federal level. But he needs to act quickly. This week, Freedom of the Press Foundation led a coalition of 123 civil liberties and journalism organizations and individual law professors and media lawyers in a letter to Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham, urging them to schedule a markup of the PRESS Act right away.

Assange decision: A wake-up call for US

On Monday, the High Court in London granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leave to appeal his extradition to the United States. The court’s decision is a welcome one. But as Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) wrote in The Guardian, it's "painfully ironic" that a U.K. court is defending the First Amendment against U.S. overreach. The ruling should be a “wake-up call” for President Joe Biden