William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


D. Mark Jackson


Corporations have increasingly used defamation suits as an offensive weapon. Many of these suits may be defined as SLAPP suits-Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. These suits, often meritless, are designed to harass and silence a corporations' critics. Following a survey oft he history of defamation law and the protection of free speech, this Note argues that corporations should be treated as per se public figures in defamation suits. This derives from the uniquely public nature of a corporation and an assumption of the risk of defamatory falsehoods that arises from the act of incorporation.Treating corporations in this manner would place a heavier burden on corporations by requiring a showing of actual malice in their defamation claims. This Note concludes that such a requirement would provide a better balance between corporations' defamation concerns and their opponents' free speech rights.