Mann v. National Review Legal Update: Amici Weigh In

by Jack Fowler

Earlier this month NR’s counsel filed a brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals, urging its judges to overrule prior lower court rulings and to toss Penn State professor Michael Mann’s suit again NR (whose co-defendants are Mark Steyn, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg). Yesterday, various amicus briefs were filed in support of National Review and the First Amendment. We’ll share them in the next day or so, but right now we encourage our friends and readers to look at the “Brief Amici Curiae of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 26 Other Organizations in Support of Appellants and Urging Reversal.” It can be found here.

In addition to the Reporters Committee, the other amici are the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the Association of American Publishers, Inc., Bloomberg L.P., the Center for Investigative Reporting, First Amendment Coalition, First Look Media, Fox News Network LLC, Gannett Co., Inc., Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the National Press Club, National Press Photographers Association, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Newspaper Association of America, North Jersey Media Group Inc., Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, the Seattle Times Company, Society of Professional Journalists, Stephens Media LLC, Time Inc., Tribune Publishing Company, Tully Center for Free Speech, Washington City Paper, and the Washington Post​. Their rationale for standing with NR is this:

Media amici have an interest in ensuring anti-SLAPP statutes remain effective tools in protecting free speech. While all citizens who choose to speak out on public affairs benefit from anti-SLAPP statutes, which aim to deter the use of litigation to silence speech, as regular speakers news organizations have an especially strong interest in ensuring that these statutes provide meaningful relief. It is news organizations that choose every day to venture into the thick of public controversy to make sure citizens are fully informed about their world. This engagement with important issues makes the news media more liable to be drawn into court, particularly when a controversial figure decides to use litigation as a weapon to counter thorough reporting or challenging commentary.

The American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital is the Washington, D.C., affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting and expanding the civil liberties of all Americans, particularly their right to freedom of speech. The ACLU of the Nation’s Capital played a leading role in supporting passage of the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act and, having represented defendants in several SLAPP suits, is familiar with the intimidating effect such lawsuits can have on free speech. 

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