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18 Oct 2017

Rebecca Leber, Mother Jones

“Corporate Bullies” Are Using RICO Laws to Go After Greenpeace

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On Monday, a federal judge in California dismissed a case from Resolute...against Greenpeace and other environmental activists...[The] nature of the case worries First Amendment advocates.

Increasingly, Greenpeace has become the target of major corporations that have argued its aggressive campaigning...constitutes “illegal enterprises”...Resolute Forest Products used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) to accuse Greenpeace of "fraudulently" inducing people all over the world "to donate millions of dollars based on materially false and misleading claims about its purported environmental purpose and its 'campaigns' against targeted companies."

Greenpeace argued in a motion to dismiss that the case was "an effort to muzzle protected speech," and fell under California's definition of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP...Judge Jon S. Tigar agreed, and on Monday granted Greenpeace’s motion to dismiss the case...Using RICO against Greenpeace “is a novel theory and it poses a real threat to organizations and individuals who engage in advocacy and speech,” says David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition...

Resolute is not alone...“It’s now apparent that there are large companies that are willing to engage in this kind of gamesmanship with the RICO law to get it to apply in an area where I firmly believe it shouldn’t apply,”...Snyder says...Even if these cases are ultimately all dismissed, they still impose a significant opportunity cost for Greenpeace.