August 10, 2020

Bad News: Virginia Legislature Can’t Sort Out Anti-SLAPP Law; Expect More SLAPP Suits

Last month we were happy to report that both houses of the Virginia legislature had passed anti-SLAPP laws (partially in response to Rep. Devin Nunes’ use of the state for a bunch of SLAPPy libel-tourism lawsuits. As we noted at the time, the two versions that passed through each part of the legislature were somewhat different, so they needed to be reconciled.

Unfortunately, it appears they were unable to reconcile to the two bills. In response to a tweeted question from reporter Rob Pegoaro, Schuyler VanValkenburg, who had introduced the House version of the bill, admitted that they couldn’t reconcile the two, and it would need to wait until next year:

It did not. We made a lot of progress at bridging the bill b/t House and Senate and I’m confident about getting something next year.

— Schuyler VanValkenburg (@VVforDelegate) March 9, 2020

This is disappointing on many levels — especially as we keep seeing so many of these cases being filed in Virginia. Having a good anti-SLAPP bill these days is important, and plenty of damage can be done in the meantime, even if a good bill will be coming next year. This is an unfortunate opportunity lost.
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