Update #2 (4/2/2011): Defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted on March 30.
Update (1/11/11): As covered by The Armenian Weekly, the University of Minnesota has filed a motion to dismiss the suit brought against the University and others (e.g., Robert Bruininks and Prof. Bruno Chaouat) related to the controversy of whether or not there was a Turkish genocide of the Armenian people. “The defendants’ statements were protected by Academic Freedom,” the brief argues. The brief does not go the extra step, theorized below, of bringing an anti-SLAPP counterclaim against the plaintiffs. Maybe that shoe will drop at a later date?
Original Post (12/2/2010): If Minnesota Litigator were to take a good faith position a controversial issue and, as a result, find itself the object of a lawsuit by a person or organization who did not like the content of my speech, would I be entitled to move to dismiss the action (and get my attorneys’ fees) through Minnesota’s “anti-SLAPP statute,” which affords some protection to those who comment on issues of public importance from non-meritorious lawsuits brought to deter public participation?
I would hope and think so.
But what about the University of Minnesota, professors, or employees there? Can they avail themselves of Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP statute? Does a government entity or do government actors have rights under the First Amendment (which, after all, is to protect citizens’ rights from the government, not the other way around)?
This, actually, is something of an open question. California courts have held that California state actors can avail themselves of that state’s anti-SLAPP statute. Perhaps the recently filed case against the U, Robert Bruininks, et al., will be a test case for the reach of Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP statute and its applicability to state actors.