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7 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 23 (1989-1990)
The SLAPP from a Sociological Perspective

handle is hein.journals/penv7 and id is 29 raw text is: The SLAPP from a Sociological
Perspective*
Penelope Canan, Ph.D.**
I.
Strategic     Lawsuits       Against     Public      Participation
(SLAPPs) involve the use of litigation to derail political
claims, moving a public debate from the political arena to the
judicial arena, where the playing field appears more advanta-
geous.1 Because the courts are being used in reaction to efforts
to influence governance, the lawsuits violate the Constitu-
tional safeguard of political speech that is guaranteed in the
petition clause of the first amendment.2
* This address was presented during Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation (SLAPPs) - Protecting Property or Intimidating Citizens, the Fall
Colloquium of the Pace University School of Law's Center for Environmental Legal
Studies, co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Committee of the Westchester
County Bar Association, White Plains, New York, October 14, 1989.
This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Law and
Social Science Program under Grant No. SES-8714495. The author thanks George W.
Pring, Professor of Law, University of Denver College of Law, Nicholas A. Robinson,
Professor of Law, Pace University School of Law, and Reid T. Reynolds, Colorado
State Demographer, for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.
Copyright 0 1990 by George W. Pring and Penelope Canan. All rights reserved. This
and the article by Professor Pring are adapted from the authors' forthcoming book,
tentatively entitled, GETTING SUED FOR SPEAKING OUT.
** Penelope Canan is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of
Denver where she received her M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1976). She is the co-principal
investigator of the Political Litigation Project, sponsored by the National Science
Foundation. Her work, combining the sociology of law, community and politics, has
been published in the LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW, SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES, SOCIAL
PROBLEMS, and SOCIOLOGICAL INQUIRY. Her applied sociological research regarding the
social impacts of proposed industrial projects - from utility rate hikes to geothermal
development to rapid transit systems - has been commissioned by private industry
and governments across the nation.
1. See P. Canan and G. W. Pring, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participa-
tion, 35 Soc. PROBS. 506 (1988).
2. The petition clause guarantees the right of the people ... to petition the

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