Current loopholes in the state's law have lured a number of individuals into using Virginia courts to intimidate their critics. For example, of the six defamation complaints Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed in the past year, four were filed in Virginia.
In a new amicus brief, Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that Nunes cannot legally pursue the identity of the anonymous speaker without first proving he has a valid defamation claim. Without meeting this legal standard, they write, the court could threaten people's First Amendment right to anonymous speech.
The California representative has filed three separate defamation lawsuits this year. In his third, Nunes claims that CNN published a “demonstrably false hit piece” about an alleged trip the congressman took to Austria to meet with an ex-Ukranian official.
The lawsuit argues that Lizza's widely read article, "Devin Nunes’s Family Farm is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret," is a "legion of lies" and that Lizza published it with the specific intent to harm the congressman’s reputation.