Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), 1987-1990: [United States] (ICPSR 9485)

Published: Nov 4, 2005

Principal Investigator(s):
Penelope Canan; George W. Pring

Version V1

The objectives of this data collection were to capture the histories of complex, multiparty, political legal disputes, to measure political "chill," and to test a model of crossinstitutional disputing. A "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" (SLAPP) was defined as a lawsuit filed against citizens or groups exercising the right to petition the government. Each case violated the First Amendment right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Petition Clause, as it is called, is a fundamental civil right, guaranteeing and encouraging citizen involvement in all aspects of American political decision-making and governance. The collection includes information on the petition action, political context, amount of award or settlement, specific damages requested (no money vs. a specified amount), attorney status, amount of court costs, attorney fees, interest, and number of individuals and organizations involved in the suit. Also included are several sociodemographic variables describing the parties to the litigation, such as marital status, employment, occupation, county and state of residence, political party orientation and membership, and interest group membership.

Canan, Penelope, and Pring, George W. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), 1987-1990:  [United States]  . Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-11-04.

Export Citation:

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National Science Foundation (SES-87-14495)

1970 -- 1990

1988 -- 1990

The codebooks are provided as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

A convenience sample of four groups were surveyed: (1) 50 filers -- parties who had filed one of the SLAPPs in the study cases, (2) 104 targets -- parties who had spoken out to the government and were then sued in one of the study cases, (3) 56 "ripples" -- parties (often named by targets) who had spoken out to the government in the early part of one of the study disputes but were not named in the subsequent lawsuit, (4) 58 "untouchables" -- people named by targets as very politically active in their communities and screened for having no knowledge of SLAPPs.

Private citizens or groups that have contacted an agent or agency of the American government to express opinions or register complaints and private citizens or groups that have filed civil lawsuits in response to the actions of the former.

telephone interviews, mail-back questionnaires, and official court records

survey data



1992-10-31 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

2000-05-09 SAS data definition statements and a PDF codebook have been added to this collection, and the SPSS data definition statements were updated.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.