In the suit, Republican politician Kimberly Klacik accused Owens of posting a video on Instagram claiming that Klacik committed campaign fraud, laundered money and illegally used drugs. The video also said that the politician was a “madam” of a strip club.
SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” which is a term coined by George Pring and Penelope Canan “to indicate an abusive or meritless lawsuit filed against someone for exercising their political rights or freedom of expression in relation to matters of public,” according to European Parliament.
The court’s ruling in Owens’ favor falls under Tennessee’s anti-SLAPP law, which Horwitz said is a “record” award of its kind. He further stated that Owens’ victory was a huge win for the media in general.
“I will also mention that whatever anyone thinks of the personalities involved, this is a major win for press freedom,” he said. “People — reporters, media outlets, and media personalities especially — should not have to fear being sued for criticizing or raising questions about politicians. Anti-SLAPP laws like Tennessee’s are crucial to protect that freedom, and they work. Anti-SLAPP protections should also be expanded so that a person’s freedom to criticize a politician does not turn on something as arbitrary as where they live or where they were sued.”
Klacik was the Republican nominee for Maryland’s 7th congressional district in both the April 2020 and November 2020 elections. She lost both elections to Democratic incumbent Kweisi Mfume by more than 40 points.