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US Senate Passes 'Libel Tourism' Bill

pickens (49171) writes | more than 3 years ago

0

Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that the US Senate has passed a bill that prevents US federal courts from recognizing or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the first amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, shielding US journalists, authors, and publishers from "libel tourists" who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favorable ruling. "While we cannot legislate changes to foreign law that are chilling protected speech in our country, we can ensure that our courts do not become a tool to uphold foreign libel judgments that undermine American First Amendment or due process rights," says Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy adding that libel judgments in foreign courts were "undermining" freedom of speech and of the press and "chilling" open debate in the United States. Backers of the bill have cited England, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore as places where weak libel safeguards attract lawsuits that unfairly harm US journalists, writers and publishers. The popular legislation headed to the House of Representatives, which was expected to approve it. "This bill is a needed first step to ensure that weak free-speech protections and abusive legal practices in foreign countries do not prevent Americans from fully exercising their constitutional right to speak and debate freely," says Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on Leahy's committee."

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