Breen Files Bill to Protect First Amendment Speech and Petition

Today, Rep. Peter Breen filed HB3089, a bill to amend the Illinois Citizen Participation Act, to ensure that Act better protects individuals from meritless lawsuits filed against them, in response to their legitimate First Amendment-protected activity. Breen, a constitutional attorney, filed the amendment in response to a number of recent court decisions that have both weakened the Act and confused the issue of when the Act will properly apply to protect members of the public from suit.

"Recent court decisions have prevented the Citizen Participation Act from achieving its original end: to protect folks from being sued just because they decided to speak their minds on a government issue," said Breen. "This amendment will clarify and strengthen the protection offered by the Act, ensuring that private citizens are protected from these meritless lawsuits, while still allowing those who are legitimately harmed to seek relief in court."
The Citizen Participation Act was passed unanimously through the General Assembly in 2007. During subsequent litigation, the different districts of the Illinois Appellate Court took different views of the Act's applicability, with the Illinois Supreme Court narrowing the applicability of the Act in Sandholm v. Kuecker, 2012 IL 111443. Appellate Court decisions since Sandholm have been mixed, with some further weakening the Act, leaving attorneys and citizens unsure of when and how the Citizen Participation Act will apply in a particular case.

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