(735 ILCS 110/5)
Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the
constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of
the State of Illinois that the constitutional rights of citizens and
organizations to be involved and participate freely in the process of
government must be
encouraged and safeguarded with great diligence. The information, reports,
opinions, claims, arguments, and other expressions provided by citizens are
vital to effective law enforcement, the operation of government, the making of
public policy and decisions, and the continuation of representative democracy.
The laws, courts, and other agencies of this State must provide the utmost
protection for the free exercise of these rights of petition, speech,
Civil actions for money damages have been filed against citizens and
organizations of this State as a result of their valid exercise of their
constitutional rights to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and
participate in and communicate with government. There has been a disturbing
increase in lawsuits termed "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation"
government or "SLAPPs" as they are popularly called.
The threat of SLAPPs
significantly chills and diminishes citizen participation in government,
voluntary public service, and the exercise of these important constitutional
rights. This abuse of the judicial process can and has been used as a means of
intimidating, harassing, or punishing citizens and organizations for involving
themselves in public affairs.
It is in the public interest and it is the purpose of this Act to strike a
balance between the rights of persons to file lawsuits for injury and the
constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely,
otherwise participate in government; to protect and encourage public
participation in government to the maximum extent permitted by law; to
establish an efficient process for identification and adjudication of SLAPPs;
and to provide for attorney's fees and costs
to prevailing movants.
(Source: P.A. 95-506, eff. 8-28-07.)