The Competitive Enterprise Institute on Wednesday called on the Virgin Islands attorney general to withdraw his subpoena into its climate-change work, calling the probe a “political ploy” designed to “punish” the free-market group for its climate-change dissent.
“Your demand on CEI is offensive, it is un-American, it is unlawful, and it will not stand,” said CEI attorney Andrew M. Grossman in a letter to Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl Walker.
“You can either withdraw it or expect to fight, because CEI strongly believes that this campaign to intimidate those who dissent from the official orthodoxy on climate change must be stopped,” said Mr. Grossman, a founder of the Free Speech in Science project.
Mr. Walker, who issued the subpoena April 7 for a decade’s worth of materials and communications related to climate change, belongs to a group of 17 attorneys general who announced March 29 they would use their authority to pursue climate-change “fraud.”
Along with the letter, the CEI included a set of objections to the subpoena filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
“The subpoena violates the First Amendment because it constitutes an attempt to silence and intimidate, as well as retaliate against, speech espousing a particular viewpoint with which the Attorney General disagrees, certain speech content, and certain expressive association, and is therefore invalid,” the eight-page filing said.
The subpoena calls for the CEI to produce the documents by April 30.
CEI general counsel Sam Kazman called the subpoena “a political ploy aimed at advancing a policy agenda by shutting down debate.”
Mr. Walker has also issued a subpoena to Exxon Mobil, the fossil-fuel giant at the center of the climate-change movement’s #ExxonKnew campaign, for documents related to its research. The company filed a motion to block the subpoena last week in state court in Texas, citing objections based on free speech and unreasonable search and seizures.
“The chilling effect of this inquiry, which discriminates based on viewpoint to target one side of an ongoing policy debate, strikes at protected speech at the core of the First Amendment,” Exxon Mobil said in its challenge.
Four states have reportedly launched investigations into whether Exxon Mobil misled consumers about the dangers of climate change.
“We are committed to ensuring a fair and transparent market where consumers can make informed choices about what they buy and from whom,” Mr. Walker said at the March 29 press conference. “If ExxonMobil has tried to cloud their judgment, we are determined to hold the company accountable.”
Sixteen of the attorneys general who belong to the AGs United for Clean Power coalition are Democrats, while Mr. Walker is an independent.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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