Pensacola News Journal
Florida Rep. Alex Andrade is bringing back a “pared down” version of a bill that makes it easier for public figures to win defamation lawsuits.
Critics say it would upend nearly 60 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent regarding free speech and create a “chilling effect” around the use of anonymous sources.
Earlier this year, Andrade sponsored a bill that made it easier to sue for defamation, assumed anonymous sources in media reports were false, made it more costly to defend defamation suits by preventing defendants from recovering legal fees, and prevented people suing for discrimination from using a person’s religious or scientific beliefs as evidence of discrimination.
The bill died during the 2023 legislative session after pushback from free speech advocates and conservative radio hosts who said the bill would increase their legal liability.
On Wednesday, Andrade filed a new bill that lacks many of the controversial elements of the previous version but still takes aim at the use of anonymous sources when commenting on public figures, like politicians or celebrities.