On March 28, the Alliance sent a letter to Texas Representative and House Judiciary Chairman Jeff Leach expressing concerns over House Bill 2781. As currently drafted, HB 2781 would threaten the vital free speech protections encompassed in Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute, the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”). The bill would eliminate the automatic stay of proceedings when a motion to dismiss under the TCPA is found to be frivolous, untimely, or subject to a statutory exemption. This would result in unnecessary and wasteful litigation if an appellate court subsequently reversed the denial of the motion to dismiss, rendering the trial court activity in the interim futile. HB 2781 would essentially force parties to litigate the same anti-SLAPP case and motion in two courts, simultaneously, which is an afront to judicial economy.
On March 30, the Alliance also joined the Reporters Committee’s letter, along with a coalition of groups, expressing similar concerns over HB 2781 as well as the companion bill, Senate Bill 896. The Alliance supports safeguarding anti-SLAPP laws that provide critical protections to journalists and news publishers against meritless lawsuits.
The Alliance’s letter can be viewed in full here.
Charlotte McBirney is Senior Counsel and Director, Public Policy for the News/Media Alliance.