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For the linguistic theory, see Speech Act.
Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act To amend title 28, United States Code, to prohibit recognition and enforcement of foreign defamation judgments and certain foreign judgments against the providers of interactive computer services
Nicknames SPEECH Act
Enacted by the 111th United States Congress
Public Law Pub.L. 111–223
Statutes at Large 124 Stat. 2480–2484
Legislative history

The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act is a federal statutory law in the United States that makes foreign libel judgments unenforceable in U.S. courts, unless those judgments are compliant with the U.S. First Amendment. The act was passed by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Purpose of the Act[edit]

The act was written as a response to libel tourism. It creates a new cause of action and claim for damages against the foreign libel plaintiff, if they acted to deprive an American of their right to free speech.[1] It was inspired by the legal battle that ensued between Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Saudi businessman Khalid bin Mahfouz over her 2003 book, Funding Evil.[2]

Legislative history[edit]

In a rare event, the act was passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives (as HR 2765)[3] and the Senate (as S 3518)[4] before being signed by President Obama on August 10, 2010.[2] Two earlier bills had aimed to address the topic of libel tourism, both with the proposed title of the "Free Speech Protection Act"; they were introduced in 2008 and 2009, in the 110th and 111th United States Congress respectively, but neither was passed.

The SPEECH Act has been endorsed by several U.S. organizations, including the American Library Association,[5] the Association of American Publishers,[6] the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press,[7] and the American Civil Liberties Union.[8][9]

Use in the courts[edit]

InvestorsHub.com v. Mina Mar Group was the first federal judgment granting declaratory relief issued under the act.[10]

Trout Point Lodge v. Doug K. Handshoe was the first appellate level ruling issued under the act, affirming a lower court decision holding that a Nova Scotia Judgment was unrecognizable and unenforceable in the United States.[11] Pursuant to the fee-shifting provision of the act, the Appeal Court awarded Handshoe $48,000 in legal fees.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Libel Tourism - Federal Bill". Media Law Resource Center. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  2. ^ a b Greenslade, Roy (2010-08-11). "Obama seals off US journalists and authors from Britain's libel laws". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  3. ^ H.R. 2765
  4. ^ S. 3518
  5. ^ "American Library Association Washington Office Report to Council" (PDF). American Library Association. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Albanese, Andrew (12 August 2010). "Obama Signs 'Libel Tourism' Law". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Abello, Cristina. "Obama signs federal 'libel tourism' bill". Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Murphy, Laura W.; Michael W. Macleod-Ball (15 July 2010). "Re: ACLU Supports H.R. 2765 - Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act ("SPEECH Act")" (PDF). American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Leahy, Patrick J. (19 July 2010). "Securing The Protection Of Our Enduring And Established Constitutional Heritage". Sunlight Foundation. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  10. ^ InvestorsHub.com, Inc., et al. vs. Mina Mar Group, Inc. et al.
  11. ^ Trout Point Lodge et al. vs. Doug. K. Handshoe
  12. ^ Order granting fees to Defendant Handshoe

External links[edit]