Senate Passes Bill Protecting Against Foreign Libel Judgements

By: E&P Staff

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill on July 19 to protect American authors, journalists and publishers from foreign libel judgments that would not withstand constitutional protection of speech in the United States.

The voice vote sent the bill to the House for final action, the Associated Press reported.

If the bill becomes law, U.S. federal courts will not be permitted to enforce a foreign judgement for defamation if that ruling or verdict is at odds with an American defendant’s right under the First Amendment.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the bill would prevent U.S. courts from becoming instruments of countries where weak protection for speech makes it easier for plaintiffs to successfully sue.

The AP quoted Leahy saying that such “libel tourism results in a race to the bottom, and can cause Americans to defer to the country with the most chilling and restrictive free speech standard, to determine what they can write or publish.”

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