At first blush, Congressional legislation to reform the federal Freedom of Information Act and create a new â€œAnti-SLAPPâ€ law donâ€™t have much in common. But they do. Both will offer significant benefits to AAN members which is why AAN has recently signed on to letters asking Congress to take action sooner rather than later. We hope youâ€™ll speak out in support of the FOIA Reform Act and Speak Free Act as well.
Neither of these are new issues. In fact, weâ€™ve already told you about earlier efforts â€“ this year and in past years â€“ regarding both FOIA Reform and federal Anti-SLAPP. Of course, we all know that Congress moves slowly and every so often needs a good swift kick to do something useful. We hope these letters â€“ and your voices â€“ provide that kick.
FOIA Reform Act
Despite high hopes that the Senate and House would pick up where they left off last year (which happened to be very close to putting a bill we supported on the Presidentâ€™s desk for signature) with the result of FOIA Reform legislation being passed in 2015, that hasnâ€™t been the case. The Senate version of the FOIA Reform Act passed the Judiciary Committee on February 23, 2015 A slightly different House bill passed the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on March 25, 2015. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held an oversight hearing on FOIA on June 2 and June 3. Afterward the House sought further input on some specific questions. As referenced in the letter, some groups provided feedback to these questions (we did not, in part because the Sunshine in Government Initiative, of which we are a member, did).
Our letter is a follow up to Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), to send a message of â€œOK, you had the hearing and you accumulated information and you castigated the DOJ and the Administration, now letâ€™s actually move the bill to the floor!â€.
Speak Free Act
Anti-SLAPP protection might be even more important for AAN members on a day to day basis. The Speak Free Act, recently introduced by Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) is the product of significant discussion, debate and drafting. Itâ€™s good legislation that would greatly help our members, especially those in the 22 states that donâ€™t currently have their own Anti-SLAPP law, those in states that have weak anti-SLAPP laws and those in states where federal courts have said the state Anti-SLAPP law does not apply in federal proceedings (like DC).
We were one of 35 media, civil liberties, technology and other organizations or companies who signed a letter intended to kick start the Speak Free Act by asking Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings and, eventually, pass this legislation.
Please do not hesitate to contact AAN Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about these bills and how you can help.