The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today asked the District of Columbia Superior Court to fine U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker (AG Walker) for violating the organization’s First Amendment rights under the District of Columbia’s Anti-SLAPP law, and for attorneys’ fees and other sanctions. According to an email from AG Walker's attorney received by CEI late Friday, May 13, AG Walker plans to abandon his D.C. subpoena legal action demanding a decade’s worth of CEI’s work on climate policy within “the next 5 court days,” but also threatens to bring a new lawsuit at any time to enforce the subpoena. This means that regardless of AG Walker’s latest plan, the subpoena still exists. CEI contends that it should never have been issued and the constitutional damage it inflicted needs to be righted.
CEI President Kent Lassman said:
“Mr. Walker’s attempt to silence us and others who share our views is an unconstitutional abomination. CEI will not sit still with this illegal threat hanging over our head, which is why we are asking the court to fine AG Walker and end his abuse of the legal process to intimidate CEI.”
CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said:
“Attorney General Walker’s subpoena of us is an outrageous violation of our First Amendment rights, and its sole purpose is to shut down debate. Mr. Walker’s statement that he will end his D.C. court action, but may launch a new one whenever the mood strikes him, is the height of arrogance and demonstrates that he still doesn’t recognize the harm he has unlawfully inflicted.”
On April 7, 2016, AG Walker subpoenaed CEI attempting to unearth a decade of the organization’s work on climate change policy. This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate. On April 20, CEI filed an objection to the subpoena calling it “offensive,” “un-American,” and “unlawful.”
The subpoena requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information dating from January 1, 1997 to January 1, 2007.
CEI is represented in this matter by attorneys Andrew M. Grossman and David B. Rivkin, Jr., who recently founded the Free Speech in Science Project to defend First Amendment rights against government abuses.