Mascagni, Evan


Evan Mascagni is an attorney at the California Anti-SLAPP Project.

California’s Free Speech Protections Fairly Strong, But Federal Legislation Needed to Protect All Americans

By Evan Mascagni

In the early 1990s, the California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP) led a statewide coalition to win enactment of the California anti-SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. This law protects against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). These damaging suits chill free speech and healthy debate by targeting those who communicate with their government or speak out on issues of public interest.

SLAPPs are used to silence and harass critics by forcing them to spend money to defend these baseless suits. SLAPP filers don’t go to court to seek justice.  Rather, SLAPPS are intended to intimidate those who disagree with them or their activities by draining the target’s financial resources. SLAPPs are effective because even a meritless lawsuit can take years and many thousands of dollars to defend. To end or prevent a SLAPP, those who speak out on issues of public interest frequently agree to muzzle themselves, apologize, or “correct” statements.