Legislatures across the United States have passed laws to combat strategic lawsuits against public participation (“SLAPPs”)—suits brought solely to harass a party that has exercised protected speech or petitioning activity. Federal courts exercising diversity jurisdiction have struggled to determine whether these nominally procedural laws—particularly their hallmark special motions to dismiss—apply outside of state courts. A proper reading of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure reveals that these laws may operate harmoniously alongside the federal system, and the twin aims articulated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins favor application of anti-SLAPP laws in federal fora. Furthermore, even if the laws and the Rules directly conflict, it would violate the Rules Enabling Act to apply the Federal Rule in preemption of the state anti-SLAPP statute.
Benjamin Ernst, Fighting SLAPPS in Federal Court: Erie, the Rules Enabling Act, and the Application of State anti-SLAPP Laws in Federal Diversity Actions, 56 B.C.L. Rev. 1181 (2015), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol56/iss3/9