Friday, June 25, 2010

'Libel Tourism' Focus of Senate Judiciary Committee

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)Image via Wikipedia
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee members Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) and Jeffrey Sessions (R.-Ala.) this week introduced SPEECH--Securing the Protection of our Enduring Established Constitutional Heritage--a bill designed to protect journalists and authors from foreign defamation claims.

The bill, which the Judiciary Committee is expected to address at their business meeting next Thursday, may be offered as a substitute amendment to the companion House measure, H.R. 2765, passed last year by the House of Representatives. Patterned on a New York law that was prompted by an author targeted in a libel tourism suit, SPEECH nullifies any foreign libel judgment obtained against U.S. citizens that would not have succeeded in U.S. courts because of First Amendment protections. Unlike other libel tourism bills seeking Senate review, the SPEECH legislation does not contain a provision that would allow American defendants to counter-sue plaintiffs who file defamation claims in foreign courts.

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