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OpenMarket: Free Speech

  • CEI Will Surmount Crimethink Persecution

    April 13, 2016

    Feisty, aggressive, unwavering, and sometimes unconventional—all terms I heard prior to joining CEI last week as president. The descriptions were spot-on. But before the first conversations ended, CEI had a new opportunity to showcase why it is the leading organization making the uncompromising case for individual and economic freedom.

    Last week, an intimidation campaign led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore reached CEI’s doors. We received a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker demanding CEI, a nonprofit and private organization, turn over a massive amount of documents on climate change policy work from 1997-2007, nearly 20 years ago. Needless to say, we will fight the subpoena.

    It is not and...

  • Our Take: The Climate-Related Subpoena

    April 12, 2016

    Since CEI was subpoenaed on April 8 for a decade’s worth of work from 20 years ago, many have asked “Why?” and “How?” Here is CEI’s take on what’s really going on with this subpoena from the U.S. Virgin Island’s attorney general.

    The investigation is harassment.

    • The breadth of the ‘inquiry’—encompassing all documents and communications during 1997 through January 1, 2007, concerning any potential impacts of climate policy on affordable energy (or, as the AG puts it, on “ExxonMobil’s sales, revenues, or business”)—includes most documents and communications of CEI’s energy and environment team during the period of interest.
    • Our energy and climate team has three full-time staff. Even if we work on the subpoena full time, after hours, and weekends we could not comply with the AG’s document production deadline of April 30.
    • The...
  • What Others Are Saying about CEI's Climate Change Subpoena

    April 12, 2016

    Since CEI was subpoenaed by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands on April 8, 2016, for energy and climate work from 20 years ago, media, commentators, and organizations alike have weighed in on this latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by a coalition of state attorneys general and former Vice President Al Gore.


  • Free Speech Violation in St. Paul Schools Undermines Anti-Private Ideology

    March 25, 2016

    Leftists who seek to ban home schooling and school vouchers, and restrict private schools, argue that is needed to prevent “indoctrination” or “balkanization.” Rather than developing a mind of their own, they argue, students who are privately schooled or home schooled will instead be indoctrinated in beliefs that progressives disagree with, like opposition to “gun control” or support for “capital punishment.” These arguments are ironic, because many public schools demand far more ideological conformity than a typical private school.

    A case in point is the school system in...

  • CEI Joins Coalition Supporting Bill to Curb Abusive Lawsuits Targeting Free Speech

    February 2, 2016

    Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined seven other free market organizations in a coalition letter expressing our strong support for the SPEAK FREE Act, which would curtail frivolous lawsuits brought to chill protected speech and stifle criticism about matters of public concern. These lawsuits, known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation”—or SLAPPs—are brought by plaintiffs to punish speakers they dislike, even though the speech is protected by the First Amendment. Even though defendants in such cases usually prevail in court, they must still spend lots of time and money defending themselves through the litigation process.

    To combat SLAPPs, the SPEAK FREE Act would let defendants move...

  • State Attorney General Climate Change Investigations Are Unconstitutional

    January 27, 2016

    Should government officials be able to cut off donations to groups because they employ people disparaged as “climate change deniers,” even if the group in question is a think tank that studies a wide range of topics, only a few of which relate to climate change at all, and the “denial” in question includes telling politically inconvenient truths about the cost of proposed climate change legislation? Only a single-issue zealot with ideological blinders and a contempt for the First Amendment would think so. 

    But that hasn’t stopped New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris investigating Exxon, partly...

  • The Misguided Attempt to Censor Yik Yak

    October 29, 2015

    People often seek to restrict new means of communication in ways that would never be applied to older forms of communication, sometimes based on fear of new technologies or illogical rationales. A recent example is the demand by 72 left-wing women’s groups and civil-rights groups that the federal government force colleges to block access to the social media app Yik Yak. They claim such measures are required by the federal civil-rights laws Title IX and Title VI. They want colleges to ban a form of social media just because a few users make racist,...

  • CEI Issues Report on the Nation’s Six Worst State Attorneys General

    August 27, 2015

    Today, CEI issued another of its periodic “worst state attorney general” lists, in a lengthy report explaining why those attorneys general received that dubious distinction. (Previous versions were issued in 2007 and 2010.) The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General 2015 is now available.

    Pennsylvania’s recently...

  • Obama Administration Pressures Colleges to Adopt Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    June 17, 2015

    Under the Obama administration, the Education Department has pressured schools and colleges to restrict speech, including off campus speech, even when it is protected by the First Amendment, and is not severe and pervasive. It claims this is required by federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX and Title VI. It also expects colleges to investigate off-campus sexual misconduct by students, even though most federal appellate court rulings say schools have no such duty under Title IX. 

    As I recently...

  • DOJ vs. Commenters: How the Deck Is Stacked Against Anonymous Political Speech

    June 9, 2015

    Our friends over at the Reason Foundation, a venerable libertarian think tank and publisher of Reason magazine, recently received a grand jury subpoena from a federal prosecutor in New York, reports Ken White at Popehat. The subpoena demands that Reason disclose “all identifying information” it has regarding six pseudonymous users who posted comments about the death and afterlife of a federal judge on Reason’s Hit & Run blog.

    These comments came in response to a May 31 Reason post by Nick Gillespie about the trial and sentencing of Ross Ulbricht, who was ...


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