First Amendment red flags hoisted over government attack on climate skeptics

With the announcement of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in March that she asked the FBI to consider whether the fossil fuel industry has lied to the public about climate change, there has been significant blowback by those who claim the investigation attempts to shut down debate in violation of the First Amendment. (CNSNews, March 11, 2016, by Hans von Spakovsky)

In a Washington Post op-ed, April 22, 2016, Sam Kazman and Kent Lassman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute criticized a group of state attorney generals who have joined Lynch in her campaign against climate change deniers. The group stated the need to combat “deceptive speech about climate change.” “The AGs are following a familiar script here: target an unpopular, deep-pocketed business [such as ExxonMobil], harass that business’s potential allies with overly broad investigations, run roughshod over the target’s First Amendment protections and settle once the politically weakened company tires of fighting the endless resources of the state,” write Kazman and Lassman.

Lynch is checking to see if industry climate deniers are committing fraud in misleading the public. David Schnare of the Energy and Environment Legal Institute agrees with Kazman and Lassman. “… the threat of an actual prosecution of climate skeptics in minimal, but by raising the possibility, Whitehouse [a democratic senator form Rhode Island] and Obama administration officials hope to cow those who disagree with them into silence.” (The Heartland Institute, April 25, 2016, by H. Sterling Burnett)