Washington Law Review


Tom Wyrwich


In March 2010, the Washington State Legislature passed its Act Limiting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. The new Act fills a critical void in Washington’s protection of free expression and petition rights. The Washington Act protects the free expression of Washington citizens by shielding them from meritless lawsuits designed only to incur costs and chill future expression. This Comment offers interpretive guidance for Washington courts by examining the new law, its legislative history, its constitutional underpinnings, and its relationship to the influential California anti-SLAPP statute on which it is modeled. Although the Washington Act shares many identical provisions with the California statute, Washington’s Act does include important deviations from the California model. This Comment embraces long-standing canons of statutory construction to argue that the Washington Act’s deviations reveal a specific intent to reject certain aspects of the California law. Among these specific rejections is the California law’s broader coverage of protected free expression. While California protects expression related to “issues of public interest,” the Washington Act protects expression related only to “issues of public concern.” Washington courts interpreting this important provision should reject California case law and embrace the “public concern” test established by the United States Supreme Court in Connick v. Myers, a test that already occupies solid ground in Washington case law.

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