A bill aimed to reduce frivolous lawsuits in Texas could mistakenly weaken our free speech protections.
Senate Bill 896 was pitched as a way to stop attorneys from abusing the law, but critics argue a provision actually works against that theory.
"Well-funded plaintiffs who don't like being criticized, using the judicial system, and I would say abusing the judicial system, to snuff out that dissent," says attorney Stacy Allen who represents the Texas Association of Broadcasters.
Allen says it could force newsrooms to pull back from investigative journalism.
"Without the (anti-SLAPP) statute, a journalist would have to go through an entire lawsuit before they could get a ruling that, in fact, there was no defamation, there was no liable," he says.
That would discourage free speech.
"That's a right that's getting harder and harder to enforce. More and more forces are aligned to suppress it. The anti-SLAPP statute is one of the primary protections that every Texan has to speak his mind," adds Allen.
The bill already cleared the Texas Senate, but has yet to get a second reading in the House.