Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Looming Victory For Free Speech?

"Rachel's Bill" is getting closer to being passed by the Senate. From the Guardian:
The American bill – if passed by the full Senate – will make it difficult to impose any judgments made in foreign courts on US nationals if those decisions are seen as hurting their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. It would allow defendants to obtain a US court's judgment that the decision was not enforceable under American law, and would protect the assets of American citizens falling victim to libel tourism and not allow them to be used to pay damages.
The bill is based on a state law in New York that was passed after the American author Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote a book on the financing of terrorism and was sued for libel in London by a Saudi billionaire. In a blogpost, Ehrenfeld has said the bill is vital for opposing libel tourism. "[It] will help deter libel tourism and secure Americans' right to speak, write and publish freely to preserve the safety and integrity of our democracy," she said.
The bill got cross-party support and was sponsored by Republican and Democrat senators. "We take seriously the challenge of getting this right – to be respectful of foreign nations, many of whom are allies. But at the same time we could have a major detriment to the right to publish and speak freely in America if we don't confront this problem," said Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator.
Exactly. As we have learned to our dismay here in Canada, home to state censorship and "human rights" bodies from sea to sea, free speech is a matter of "use it or lose it."

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