Freedom of speech of one of the most important rights you have as an American. However, it is often at the center of controversy.
Trying to silence someone through censorship or other methods happens all the time, but when someone tries to use the legal system to do it, it becomes problematic. The Public Participation Project explains when someone tries to halt free speech through a lawsuit it is a strategic lawsuit against public participation or SLAPP.
The goal of a SLAPP is not to gain money or even win the case. The goal is to silence the other party through intimidation and financial strain. Because lawsuits can take a lot of money to fight, a SLAPP can drain the finances of the other party to the point where they have to back down or retract what they said to stop the legal process.
The problem with SLAPPs is they are never going to win in court. The whole premise of the lawsuit is to attack free speech, which any judge will see as a violation of Constitutional rights. So, the person filing the case knows they will not win anything. They simply are using the legal system as a weapon.
The end result
When authorities allow SLAPPs, it only hurts everyone. It adds strain to the legal system, slows down the courts and costs money to everyone involved. It also robs people of their rights.
Because SLAPPs are detrimental and an attempt at violating the rights of someone else, many areas have laws against them. These laws allow you to stop a lawsuit against you in its tracks by requesting a dismissal because it violates your First Amendment rights.