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Rep. McCormick’s Free Speech Bill OK’d In Both Chambers

Press Release from Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; April 7, 2010:

(April 5, 2010, NASHVILLE) – Representative Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) has passed a law in the Tennessee General Assembly that will protect Tennesseans’ freedom of speech. The law instructs Tennessee courts to declare foreign libel judgments unenforceable if they do not comport with the free speech laws of the United States Constitution or the Tennessee Constitution.

“This new law is designed to protect Tennesseans’ right to free speech and freedom of the press without fear of reprisal from foreign courts in other countries,” said Representative McCormick. “The United States has always upheld the right to freedom of speech, expression, and freedom of the press. This law will assist in upholding that very precious right here in Tennessee,” he added.

Libel plaintiffs have been known to file suit in foreign courts largely due to the fact that other countries do not have the speech protections of the United States’ First Amendment. In particular, American authors and publishers have been targeted in libel suits in other countries.

Known as ‘libel tourism,’ plaintiffs try the cases in foreign courts because many countries do not have the stringent requirements of jurisdiction to which United States courts are subject.

“If Tennesseans do not feel their freedom of speech is protected and could be subject to judgment in another country, it creates a chilling effect on a very precious right,” said Representative McCormick. “This law will go a long way in protecting that right.”

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