The Dakota Access Pipeline Company Is Abusing the Judicial System to Silence Dissent

A federal court threw out a baseless lawsuit against Greenpeace and other pipeline opponents and the company promptly refiled the case in state court. In a win for free speech, a federal court in North Dakota recently dismissed a baseless $900 million lawsuit brought by the Dakota Access Pipeline company against Greenpeace and a number of individual protesters. The company should have learned its lesson. Instead, it refiled the case in state court. These meritless cases are textbook examples of “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” or SLAPPs. This tactic is increasingly used by corporations to silence critics with expensive legal actions. The pipeline company, Energy Transfer LP, filed the lawsuit in 2017 against Greenpeace organizations and others, including individual Standing Rock protesters. It relied on defamation law and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal statute designed to prosecute mob activity. The…

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