In a democracy that for over 200 years has prided itself on public participation and citizen involvement in government, thousands have been and will be the targets of multi-million-dollar lawsuits. They will be sued for such "all-American" activities as circulating a petition, writing a letter to the editor, testifying at a public hearing, reporting violations of the law, filing an official complaint, lobbying for legislation, or otherwise communicating their views. Such cases, named "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation," with their apropos acronym, SLAPPs, are a shocking abuse of one of our most basic political rights—the Right to Petition. So extensive and grievous is the phenomenon that Justice Nicholas Colabella remarked, "Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined."
George W. Pring and Penelope Canan explore the full range of SLAPP stories in this first study of SLAPPs— retaliatory lawsuits by real estate developers; teachers; police; politicians; opponents of civil rights; consumers' rights; women's rights; and many others. This comprehensive book examines what happens to the targets of SLAPPs and what is happening to public participation in American politics. Addressing the ultimate dilemma—what can be done to turn the tables and fight back—Pring and Canan offer concrete, well-supported, balanced solutions for preventing, managing, and curing SLAPPs at all levels of government.