Robert Knight rightly condemns the harassment of dissenters by left-wing attorneys general (“The dawn of totalitolerance,” Web, May 22). As he notes, Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker sent an incredibly burdensome subpoena to my employer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, demanding “access to CEI’s donor lists.” Mr. Walker did this after I criticized an “investigation of Exxon Mobil’s charitable contributions” to conservative groups launched by Mr. Walker and leftist state attorneys general.
Mr. Walker’s demand for sensitive donor information and internal communications violated the First Amendment, as appeals court decisions such as Perry v. Schwarzenegger (2010) make clear. By imposing a huge compliance burden on us in retaliation for our speech, Mr. Walker’s subpoena also violated court rulings such as White v. Lee (2000) and Tao v. Freeh (1994). Those rulings forbid investigations and burdensome demands that retaliate against a speaker or would stop a reasonable person from speaking out.
Senior attorney, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Originally posted at Washington Times.