To: [email protected] (or your local senator)

Subj: PLEASE VOTE YES ON THE FREE SPEECH ACT OF 2008-CRITICALLY IMPORTANT VOTE

 

July 26, 2008
 
Dear Senator Feinstein: 
 
PLEASE VOTE YES ON ‘The Free Speech Protection Act of 2008’-THIS IS A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT ACT AND MUST PASS, WE NEED YOUR HELP.
The Free Speech Protection Act of 2008 ( S-2977 & H.R. 5814), was introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete King (R., N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.), and a Senate  companion bill by Senator Arlen Specter (R., PA) and Joseph Lieberman (I- CT), and co-sponsored by NY senior Senator Chuck Schumer.  With Schumer on board, the bill can be adopted before Congress adjourns this summer.  It’s important to take immediate measures to defend our ability to inform the public and protect our free speech rights – now under attack by Saudis using the British legal system. I can’t think of a more important and urgent law Congress can be proud of than the Free Speech Protection Act.
 
This legislation  builds on New York State’s “Libel Terrorism Protection Act, ” aka “Rachel’s Law.”
 
The NY law, and the proposed federal legislation grew from the court battles of New York journalist and terrorism investigator, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, whom a Saudi billionaire sued in Great Britain for Funding Evil;  How Terrorism is Financed – And How to Stop It-–although she is American and her book sold here, not in the U.K. But plaintiff-friendly British libel laws have made London a Mecca for libel tourists wishing to intimidate authors worldwide.The suit against Dr. Ehrenfeld—like 40 previous cases that silenced many other American and New York authors—is an obvious attempt to dilute First Amendment protections of free press, and prevent investigations of terror-financing.
 
 The British Guardian wrote on July 15, “English libel law is an international menace, a national disgrace, a pre-democratic anachronism. It defends crooks, terrorists and tyrants from investigation. It threatens the free speech of people all over the world and causes untold damage to the reputation of this country.”
 
 In a tremendous victory for free speech rights and to provide legal protections from “libel terrorism” to New York authors and publishers, the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, aka “Rachel’s Law,” was adopted unanimously – in less than 3 months by the NY legislature and signed into law by Governor David Patterson on April 30, 2008.
 
Pat Schroder, President of the Association of American publishers stated: “We’ve supported Rachel Ehrenfeld in her court battles….Now we’d like to see the fight taken to another level with enactment of federal legislation.”
 
Senators Specter and Lieberman note that the English Libel Laws threaten the “free-flowing marketplace of ideas” which “enables the ideals of democracy to defeat the totalitarian vision of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations”. Free speech in the U.S. “is under sharp attack through foreign courts, where dozens of mendacious libel suits have intimidated and  silenced American authors and U.S. publishers.”
 
“The new legislation would not shield  those who recklessly or maliciously print false information. It would ensure that Americans are held to and protected by American standards, “ wrote Senators Specter and Lieberman. The new Free Speech Act bars U.S. courts from enforcing libel  judgments issued in foreign courts  against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law. The bill also permits American authors and publishers to counter sue if the material is protected by the First Amendment. If a jury finds that the foreign suit is part of a scheme to suppress free speech rights, it may award damages.
 
Sincerely,
 
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