Evolution of the Right to Petition

In: Historical Events

Submitted By vcipriano3
Words 3478
Pages 14
Evolution of the Right to Petition, and Modern Applications

Back when I lived in Houston, TX there was a plan to place a small sewage treatment facility right next to the entrance of my neighborhood. As soon as residents heard of this plan they immediately gathered to petition our local government to stop these plans in their tracks. Soon after submitting their petition the group was met with a lawsuit from the company responsible for construction, claiming charges of defamation. Every day Americans assume they are able to enjoy and exercise the inalienable rights that were protected by our founding fathers in the Bill of Rights. However, in recent years it has come to the attention of many that our right to petition, as protected in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, may be at risk. The source of concern is a controversial one that forces us to weigh the importance of our right to enter a plea against another citizen, against our right to petition freely without fear of redress. Over the past couple decades Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation in government, also know as SLAPPs, have become a tool used by corporations (especially those in real-estate) to silence critics who petition against their actions. The goal of delay and distraction is accomplished by forcing defendants to bear the burden of litigation costs in order to defend themselves from the impending lawsuit. Twenty-Eight states have already passed anti-SLAPP statutes, however I believe it is necessary for the national government to pass a nationwide anti-SLAPP law in order to protect what is arguably one of its citizens most fundamentally important rights. In order to support this claim however, it is imperative for us to examine the history of how the right to petition has been used, and the development of precedents that show how this right has been interpreted and protected…...

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