Online speech backers’ newest fear: Trump

Free-speech advocates in Congress are teaming up with an unlikely ally: Silicon Valley.

Tech companies and GOP lawmakers have found common cause in trying to make it harder to sue people for what they say online, inspired by cases such as a Virginia carpet cleaner’s attempt to punish the writers of negative Yelp reviews. But while the anti-lawsuit crusade meshes with Republicans’ traditional dislike of trial lawyers, supporters fear it will collide with Trump’s fondness for litigation against his critics — including his real or threatened suits against a Miss USA contestant, a rapper who used his name in a YouTube video, a journalist who questioned his net worth and former GOP primary rival John Kasich.

So the bill’s supporters are pushing to get the legislation passed while Barack Obama is still president.

“Obama will sign this. I don’t think Trump will,” said Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, a lead sponsor of the anti-lawsuit bill — who also happens to support Trump’s White House bid.

.. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, has said passing an anti-SLAPP bill would be a fitting rebuke for the Republican hopeful.

“Time and again, Trump demonstrates a flawed understanding of the U.S. Constitution and of American values,” Shapiro, who backed Sen. Marco Rubio’s candidacy, wrote this spring in The American Spectator. “Supporting strong anti-SLAPP legislation would send Trump a message: No reasonable, thinking American wants a bully in the White House.”

.. In some cases, he has openly acknowledged that going to court is less about seeking justice and more about joyfully punishing enemies. In one infamous example, he sued a New York Times business editor over a book in which the writer reported on doubts that Trump was the billionaire he claimed to be.

“I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, and they spent a whole lot more,” said Trump, who lost the case. “I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about.”