Media Contact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 21, 2024
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

February 21, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance House Bill 757 (HB 757), which would make it easier for public officials to bring defamation lawsuits for damages against their critics. This expansive government censorship bill would undermine decades of Supreme Court precedent on defamation lawsuits and would chill the speech of individuals and entities that are critical of public officials. 

The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and its companion bill Senate Bill 1780 (SB 1780). 

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following: 

“HB 757 is so broadly worded that in addition to chilling the speech of journalists, pundits, and radio talk show hosts, it would chill the speech of any person on the internet. It directly contradicts long-standing protections of speech on issues of public concern. It will also lead to a flood of litigation, creating huge financial burdens and resulting in the chilling of free speech. 

“This bill would be upending First Amendment protections outlined in the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan. The Supreme Court upheld the need to protect our ‘profound’ national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’ and established a high standard for public figures to win defamation cases against the media and the public. Undoing these protections would undermine decades of Supreme Court precedent by infringing upon the free speech rights of those who criticize or comment on public figures and speak out on matters of public importance. 

“Despite the warning of the free speech concerns posed by this bill, certain Florida lawmakers have continued to advance this bill. Our democracy requires unfettered freedom of speech and the press.”