PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The SPEECH Act defends the First Amendment and serves as a targeted response to Libel Tourism

Issue
Legal Framework
Political Positions

Legal Framework

Introduction

The United States enacted the SPEECH Act in 2009 to address growing concerns of so-called “libel tourism” (forum shopping libel claims in favorable foreign courts). As the United States recognizes a broader notion of Freedom of Speech than many other countries, often times United States citizens were finding themselves on the wrong side of libel suits and being taken to task. The purpose of the Act is to then apply the American interpretation of Freedom of Speech when evaluating and enforcing foreign claims of libel. It may be seen in part as a national extension of New York’s Libel Tourism Protection Act, passed in 2007.

Body of law

  • Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act, 28 U.S.C §§ 4101-05, available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ223/html/PLAW-111publ223.htm.

Reading suggestions

  • Darren J. Robinson, U.S. Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, Libel Tourism, and the Speech Act: Protecting Speech or Discouraging Foreign Legal Cooperation?, 21 Transnat’l L. & Contemp. Probs. 911 (2013).
  • 30 Am. Jur. 2dExecutions, Etc. §731.10
  • Andrew Thomas & Christina Avedissian, Libel tourism’s trip gets cut short, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Sept. 26, 2013, available at http://jenner.com/system/assets/publications/12347/….

Responses

The SPEECH Act is a necessary protection against libel tourism.
Marissa Gerny

The SPEECH Act is deeply flawed in imposing the United States' constitutional interpretation of freedom of speech and subsequent libel actions on other countries trying to bring and enforce claims in US Courts.
Mark D. Rosen

Comments on this Issue or One of the Responses