Daniel Snyder’s latest filing in his libel suit against Washington City Paper (which I once edited) takes a shot at the D.C. Council. The brief attacks a City Paper motion filed in June to dismiss his complaint based on the city’s statute combating Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The court can’t throw out the case based on the anti-SLAPP law, say Snyder’s lawyers, because the anti-SLAPP law is illegitimate and unconstitutional in the first place.
D.C.’s Home Rule Act, argues the Snyder motion, bars the D.C. Council from promulgating “any act, resolution, or rule with respect to any provision of Title 11 of the District of Columbia code (relating to organization and jurisdiction of the District of Columbia courts).”
All of which Johnny Barnes calls “poppycock.” Barnes is the executive director of the ACLU’s National Capital chapter, and he doesn’t fancy Snyder’s legal team holding forth on matters of home rule: “Having been involved in the writing of the Home Rule Act, I think the California lawyers who are relying on California law have misinterpreted the shared power between the council and the Congress on local matters, and we think that the shared power allows the council to act in this regard,” says Barnes. (Snyder’s motion identifies two attorneys for him — one from D.C. and the other from California).
The ACLU has already submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case and may be doing likewise on this anti-SLAPP question. “We’ll have more to say later,” says Barnes.