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Anti-SLAPP Law Bars Calif. Ballot Challenge

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) - A California appeals court barred a citizens' group from challenging a sales-tax ballot issue in Santa Barbara, because the lawsuit suppressed public participation.

The Santa Barbara County Coalition Against Automobile Subsidies filed for an injunction, claiming the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments improperly spent public money to promote the half-percent increase in the county sales tax to fund a transportation plan.

Judge Perren agreed with the trial court that the coalition's complaint was a SLAPP suit, or strategic litigation against public participation, because it challenged the government association's constitutional right to free speech.

In order to prevail in this case, Perren ruled that the association "need only show the complaint arises from acts in furtherance of its free-speech rights."

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