A federal appellate court today gave the green light to a defamation lawsuit filed against the late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart by former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. A three-judge panel affirmed a court order denying Breitbart’s motion to dismiss the case under the District of Columbia’s law barring strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs.
Local lawyers hoping for a conclusive ruling on whether the anti-SLAPP law applies in federal court will have to keep waiting. In the ruling this morning, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided the case on procedural grounds.
The anti-SLAPP law, passed by the D.C. Council in March 2011, offered defendants an early route to dismissal if they believed they were sued over protected speech. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the denial of Breitbart's anti-SLAPP motion, finding the defendants missed the deadline to file.
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