Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 4, 1993

Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting

Robert D. Richards, John W. Bagby
Pages 113-125

An Embattled Corporate Image
Balancing the First Amendment and Competition in Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation

A burgeoning category of lawsuits is challenging aspects of fundamental constitutional doctrine. In recent years more than one thousand of these lawsuits have been identified. The scenario presents the business community perched as plaintiffs filing suit against citizens and activists who have spoken out against a project or activity. A variety of reputational and business torts is being used to encroach upon an area of constitutional law that has remained relatively tranquil over the past few decades—the petition clause of the First Amendment. But not all those petitioning the government do so in good faith. Some petitions may be aimed solely at thwarting a competitor. Consequently, a need to balance the First Amendment and competition has developed.