May 19, 2016
J. K. Rowling made international headlines this week by defending free speech in an address to the PEN Literary Gala in New York. She referenced the much-discussed public petition that was circulated at the end of last year calling for Donald Trump to be banned from entering the UK over “hate speech,” arguing that someone like Trump should, if fact, have the right to say things she (and others) find bigoted or offensive:
“His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot,” Rowling continued. “His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position, without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If you seek the removal of freedoms...
May 17, 2016
After a recent victory in a FOIA lawsuit, Horner and CEI v. GMU, a Richmond court allowed the Competitive Enterprise Institute to release records on Friday that showed George Mason University’s Ed Maibach and Jagadish Shukla, both taxpayer-funded instructors, organized a campaign calling for prosecution of those who disagree with their views on climate policy.
In one of the many documents released, Shukla denies he and his collaborators were attempting to silence dissent on climate change.
Some quick background. Early last September, Shukla, Maibach, and 18 other climate advocates sent a ...
May 3, 2016
Today, the Virginia Circuit Court in Richmond issued a ruling in our case under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), Christopher Horner and Competitive Enterprise Institute v. George Mason University. This is an important case in which we prevailed on all counts—seeking public records showing how the "RICO-20" group of academics used public funding to organize their call for a federal racketeering investigation of "corporations and other entities" who disagree with them. Their targets’ crime—dissenting from the party line on climate change.
The suit was filed when George Mason University (GMU) falsely claimed that no such records existed in response to a VFOIA request...
April 28, 2016
Today, CEI, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), and CEI employee Gordon Cummings, as a private individual, filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) recent regulation extending the existing statute prohibiting smoking aboard aircraft to cover electronic cigarettes. The reason is simple: Congress never gave regulators the power to prohibit e-cigarette use aboard aircraft.
The agency is inventing authority it clearly does not have. Congress granted USDOT power to implement its law under ...
April 21, 2016
Yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute responded to U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, who recently sent us a subpoena demanding we turn over essentially all of our documents on climate change policy during the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007. We told Mr. Walker that we object to his subpoena, as it’s a blatant attempt to intimidate us for advocating views that he opposes. Simply put, the subpoena is nothing more than attempt to punish CEI for our public policy views and silence our advocacy, under the guise of an...
March 30, 2016
CEI’s Center for Class Action Fairness has appealed the district court’s approval of the Subway Footlong settlement to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The saga began in January 2013 when an Australian teenager’s tweet of a not-quite-footlong Subway Footlong sandwich went viral, spawning nine U.S. lawsuits that were eventually centralized in federal court in Milwaukee.
After two plus years of wrangling (most of that time just spent negotiating class counsel’s fee award), the plaintiffs and defendants sought to have the court sign off on their proposed agreement. Subway agreed to require franchisees to keep a measuring tool on their premises, require monthly inspectors to inspect five loaves of white and five loaves of wheat bread, and maintain certain other trivial best-baking practices. Although the parties wouldn’t exactly let on, it is a good bet that Subway...
March 24, 2016
Judges don’t like it when someone makes a claim that turns out not to be true in order to get a lawsuit dismissed, such as by claiming records don’t exist when they do. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) failed to disclose the existence of some records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request until after a federal judge had already ruled in the case. When the judge found out, he issued an Order to Show Cause yesterday asking OSTP to explain why the Court should not impose sanctions on it, or permit discovery against it.
CEI had sought drafts of OSTP’s letter denying...
March 18, 2016
On January 8, 2014, the White House posted a curious video claiming that global warming causes more severe winter cold. Called “The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes,” it featured the director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), John Holdren, claiming that a “growing body of evidence” showed that the “extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”
This claim was questioned by many scientists and commentators on all sides of the global warming debate. (See, e.g., Jason Samenow, Scientists: Don’t make “extreme cold” centerpiece of global warming argument, ...
March 14, 2016
Class-action lawsuits are commonly settled for things that benefit the lawyers bringing them, not the class of allegedly victimized people they are supposedly suing on behalf of.
A classic example is Frank v. Poertner, pending before the Supreme Court. Ripped-off class members asking the Supreme Court to hear their challenge to a class action settlement that awarded class lawyers $5.7 million, while 99 percent of class members get nothing, and a third-party nonprofit got a bunch of donated batteries. As Roger Parloff of Fortune asks, “Should Plaintiffs Lawyers Get 94% of A Class Action Settlement?” The Supreme Court should answer with a loud “No.”
The class-action lawsuit was brought against Gillette, the maker of...
January 20, 2016
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit could soon deliver a pivotal ruling in the case of Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Our lawsuit involves a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking work-related emails from the personal email account of Dr. John Holdren, who has directed the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since early 2009. This case could set an important precedent affirming FOIA’s vitality in digital era, ensuring that agency employees who increasingly conduct official business using non-governmental accounts—or even private servers—cannot evade the scrutiny of...