The American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh and a host of media organizations, including National Public Radio, Albritton, Politico, and WUSA-TV, yesterday filed an amicus brief in support of the City Paper and Dave McKenna’s motion to have Dan Snyder’s complaint dismissed under DC’s anti-SLAPP statute.
The amicus brief, which has gotten attention for its reference to Harry Potter and Voldemort, explains that DC’s anti-SLAPP statute is part of a growing trend, joining 27 other jurisdictions that have enacted similar legislation. It describes the legislative process that led to its passage, and emphasizes certain aspects of the law, including that it “establish[es] a lower substantive threshold for motions to dismiss in SLAPP-suits” and that, while a “defamation claim arising out of speech on issues of public interest [is] not barred, a plaintiff who seeks to pursue such a claim needs to have his proof in hand before he or she files suit; fishing expeditions hoping to discover missing elements of causes of action are not allowed” (emphasis in original). The amici argue that the suit is squarely within the statute’s protection and that Snyder will be unable to show that he is likely to prevail on the merits.
Anticipating possible arguments by Snyder, the amicus brief argues that, while the DC anti-SLAPP statute might define a “SLAPP” more broadly than other statutes, the DC legislature had the authority to do so. It also argues that the DC Council has the authority to abolish or modify torts or to create immunities from tort liability.