Dear Governor Stitt:
The undersigned organizations, which represent a broad coalition across the political spectrum, thank you for vetoing House Bill 1236.
The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act is one of the nation’s best anti-SLAPP laws. HB 1236 would significantly weaken that law’s protections for citizens faced with expensive and meritless lawsuits (known as SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) aimed at silencing their speech.
The bill would remove current law’s requirement that a speaker who successfully files an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss a meritless case be awarded fees to recover litigation costs. This is a vital deterrent against SLAPP lawsuits. Without an award, a defendant might win the lawsuit, but still suffer financial devastation from costs owed to their lawyers.
Every state should follow Oklahoma’s lead to reduce the punishment that unscrupulous litigants can mete out to their critics and adversaries. Automatic costs and attorney’s fee awards do just that. Importantly, such fee-shifting also enables more attorneys to represent those with limited means fighting a SLAPP.
Thank you, Governor Stitt, for safeguarding the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act that protects citizens’ rights to speech, press, assembly, and petition.
Institute for Free Speech
American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma
Americans for Prosperity – Oklahoma
Better Business Bureau serving Central Oklahoma
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Oklahoma
International Association of Better Business Bureaus
Center for Biological Diversity
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression
James Madison Center for Free Speech
Motion Picture Association
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Taxpayers Union
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Oklahomans for Fairness
Oklahomans For Life
People for Opportunity
Public Participation Project
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists