Gross said he was also wary of a clause requiring defendants who lose a court case to pay “reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees,” among other penalties. Stated. The main relevant section undermines the so-called Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) law, a law intended to prevent reprisal or frivolous lawsuits aimed at silencing critics. Their lawsuit must overcome such legal hurdles.
“This will give public officials and their staunch supporters a greater incentive to file frivolous libel claims, as they will be able to pay their attorneys’ fees,” Gross said. .
Andrade claimed on his bill that he was trying to fight for the less powerful. He particularly emphasized the following cases. Nicholas Sandmana Covington Catholic high school student who encountered Native American protesters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Lawsuit Against Other Outlets Forsaken in federal court last year.
“Nowadays, only the rich and powerful can successfully file a defamation claim against anyone. No one can afford it,” Andrade said. “How could the median income earner today afford his $100,000 in attorney fees to file this lawsuit?”
But critics interviewed by BuzzFeed News said they believed the bill would ultimately benefit influential celebrities.
“I don’t know where in this bill they’re getting something to protect the little guy,” Petersen said. “I can’t see it.”
Block with FAF said that “citizen Facebookers” would also be affected, as the bill broadly covers “internet speech” such as social media postings and online reviews, as well as “presentations to an audience.” says. As a citizen who might speak at a public meeting.
“The only people who benefit are the rich and powerful,” Block said. “I know Governor DeSantis said this is all about the little guy, but I don’t think it will do any good to the average Joe. On the contrary, the average Joe would be deeply hurt by this.” think.”
Critics told BuzzFeed News that the bill’s synergies would limit media and public scrutiny by imposing a hefty financial burden when powerful people make mistakes. Insurance costs for the media to defend themselves in court will likely skyrocket, putting small groups like the FCGA at risk. Ultimately, many news outlets may decide that some stories are not worth the litigation risk.
“Instead of doing complex analysis, Now, when we talk about this, is this politician playing a role as a public figure? And how do we make sense of it?many organizations and reporters would very reasonably say, we are not going to deal with it. I will not report on this, butsaid Hans.
While some may applaud the view that Florida’s right-wing government is chasing left-wing news media, the fear of public discourse will affect people from all political backgrounds. After all, Fox News is currently the defendant in two of the most high-profile cases. defamation lawsuit in the country.
“Many conservatives and supporters of Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis will see this and say, ‘Haha, tough nogi, New York Times and CNN and Washington Post!’ I don’t think they realize what effect it has on conservative radio stations,” Bullock said.
HB 991 is just the latest attempt by the Florida government to crack down on speech. classroom, universityagain Protest at the State CapitolDeSantis and his allies are working to silence everyone teacher To disneyMany of these bills are already Inspired by imitations from other statesand given the governor’s widely reported presidential ambitionPetersen said people across the United States needed to focus on this latest attack.
“Our governor is going to run for president in the 2024 election and has made it very clear that what he is going to do is make Florida a model for the rest, so people can We have to pay attention to what’s going on in ,” she said. of the nation. ”