CEI Asks Supreme Court to Hear Michael Mann Defamation Case

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of CEI v. Michael Mann. At issue is criticism of Mann’s climate hockey stick that appeared on CEI’s blog in 2012. The petition argues that a 2018 ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals, allowing Mann’s lawsuit to go forward, conflicts with rulings by both the Supreme Court and by federal circuit courts on the First Amendment’s protection of commentary on controversial issues. National Review, the defendant in a companion case, is also petitioning the Supreme Court.

“The D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision in CEI v. Michael Mann not only threatens the exercise of free speech, it also threatens scientific dissent and the possibility of robust political debate on matters of major importance,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “We hope the Supreme Court will hear this case and reaffirm the fundamental First Amendment protection of free speech.”

The case began with a July 2012 post on CEI’s blog, criticizing climate scientist Michael Mann and the 2010 investigation of his work by Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches. Mann demanded a retraction of both the post and of a column excerpting it by then-National Review columnist Mark Steyn. His demands were rejected and Mann sued for libel in D.C. Superior Court in October, 2012. The defendants moved to dismiss Mann’s case, invoking both D.C.’s Anti-SLAPP law and Mann’s status as a public figure. When these motions were denied, the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Oral argument was held before a three-judge appellate panel in November, 2014. Despite the fast-track status of the case, no ruling was issued until December, 2016. The panel ruled against CEI, but dismissed several of Mann’s counts. In January, 2017, the defendants petitioned for rehearing en banc. The panel issued a slightly amended ruling in December, 2018. CEI and National Review once again sought rehearing en banc, with support from a wide range of media organizations ranging from the Daily Caller to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Washington Post. Their motions were denied on March 1, setting the stage for their Supreme Court petitions.

CEI is represented by Andrew M. Grossman of Baker & Hostetler.

You can read CEI’s cert petition here.

Read more about CEI v. Michael Mann here.