Unlawful and Un-American: How Our Leaders Are Attacking Your First Amendment Rights


Lassman: No American should fear being singled out and harassed by a government official who takes a different point of view on public policy questions.

Voiceover: President Obama's Justice Department may be going after your business if he does not like the way you think about global warming. Democratic attorneys general for more than a dozen states fired off subpoenas seeking decades of records from climate change skeptics, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Lassman: What's happened here is unlawful and it's un-American.

Strassel: This is what happens when you can't win a debate. They couldn't pass it through Congress, so instead they're imposing their agenda on everyone else.

Kazman: And our first reaction was "Hell no!" This thing is one unconstitutional fishing expedition. The real thing that they're after is to shut down the global warming debate.

Strassel: The reason these prosecutors have targeted CEI is it's not really even about the research or the documents. It's about sending a message to CEI and all the other groups that were included that if you go out and you get engaged in a cause, with which we do not agree, we're going to make you face political costs, we're going to make you face legal costs, we're going to wrap up your time dealing with subpoenas. We're generally going to make your life very very difficult.

Lassman: They are set upon sending a signal that certain types of speech and the promotion of ideas in political discourse in the public sphere is off-limits and it's off-limits to the degree that they're willing to punish it.

Strassel: CEI has been great because when faced with the prospect of this muzzling and the subpoena that it received instead of just meekly turning over documents, it stood up and it managed, as a result of the action it took, to get one of the lead prosecutors in this to back off. This is a model that other nonprofits should be following because it's the only way to make bullies stop in the end is to call them out on what they're doing.

Lassman: Our job is to defend the rights of speech and to make sure those who are the enemies of speech are held accountable.

For more information on this issue, visit CEI.org/climatesubpoena