CEI and adjunct analyst Rand Simberg responded last Friday to Michael Mann’s libel lawsuit against them, National Review, and columnist Mark Steyn, with a special motion to dismiss the case based on DC’s “Anti-SLAPP” law. The motion argues Mann’s lawsuit is precisely the type of lawsuit SLAPP (for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) is intended to curb.
The Anti-SLAPP Act, which took effect in 2011, protects the right to engage in advocacy on issues of public interest. Mann filed his lawsuit in October, based on a July 13 CEI OpenMarket blog post that compared Penn State’s investigation of Mann in the wake of Climategate to the school’s initially shoddy investigation of Jerry Sandusky. CEI argues the blog post issue was essentially opinion backed by references to publicly available facts. This, coupled with Mann’s status as a highly outspoken public figure in the global warming controversy, places this speech at the core of constitutionally protected speech.
“It’s ironic that an advocate of global warming is trying to freeze debate on this issue,” said Sam Kazman, CEI General Counsel. “Michael Mann likes to use the term ‘denier’, but in this case he himself is the free-speech denier.”
CEI and Rand Simberg are represented in the action by the firm of Baker Hostetler.