The Progressive War on Free Speech

Exposing the climate change hoax comes with oppressive legal consequences.

Of all the constitutional freedoms granted to us in the Bill of Rights, none is more sacred than the right to free speech. That is why it stands apart from all other amendments at the top as the First Amendment. The Framers, having experienced the suppression of free speech firsthand, were cognizant of the tyranny ruling monarchs and assorted despots could impose by suppressing speech and sought to make clear that this was a sacred right that with few exceptions was not to be infringed upon.

But in recent years, we’ve witnessed an unrelenting assault on free speech with a concerted effort by the regressive Left to curtail thought and restrict the free exchange of ideas. Last week, I wrote about campus terrorism and how conservatives and others who maintain views that are inconsistent with the leftist narrative have been subjected to campaigns of harassment and abuse by campus hooligans. 

Often university officials are apathetic, turning a blind eye to these transgressions, while in other universities the administration is complicit by instructing campus police to stand down, allowing the agitators free reign to shut down speaking engagements through use of bullying tactics. In at least two instances, university presidents were forced to issue rather craven apologies to an alliance of leftists and Islamists for having the temerity to defend the right to free speech.

This disturbing trend of muzzling free speech has now substantially broadened to include criminalizing speech that issues challenges to the so-called science of climate change. Some seventeen left-leaning state attorneys general have launched investigative and intrusive probes against Exxon Mobil and conservative groups because of their involvement in debunking alarmist claims of imminent doom issued by hysterical climate change proponents.

The ringleaders of this anti-free speech witch hunt include Eric Schneiderman (D-New York) and Claude Walker (I-Virgin Islands). At a recent speech at the Bloomberg’s Big Law Business Summit, Schneiderman was dismissive of his critics, accusing them of “First Amendment opportunism.” The more he spoke the more he sounded like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s thuggish dictator who utilized the vast resources of the state to silence anyone who disagreed with him.

To buttress his case, Schneiderman cited a 1978 case in which Judge William Rehnquist argued that under very narrow circumstances, states could impose limits to corporate free speech. What Schneiderman glaringly failed to note was that he was citing Rehnquist’s dissent. Moreover, Rehnquist limited his dissent to a very narrow and unique set of circumstances inapplicable to the instant matter. Had Schneiderman used this argument in a legal proceeding, he would have almost certainly been laughed out of court and probably sued by his client for legal malpractice. The very fact that he cited a 1978 dissenting opinion with little if any relevancy to the case at bar and zero persuasive authority is indicative of how abysmally weak his case is.

Schneiderman’s partner in crime, Claude Walker, issued a broad subpoena targeting conservative groups seeking a decade’s worth of documents, including written communications between Exxon Mobil and groups espousing views skeptical of climate change. One such group, the Comprehensive Enterprise Institute, fought back hard asking the court to impose sanctions against the Walker for bringing a frivolous and malicious lawsuit whose sole aim is to stifle free speech. Walker backed down and withdrew his subpoena against CEI but without prejudice, meaning he can reinstitute it at any time. CEI in the meantime, is maintaining its countersuit.

Twelve Republican attorneys general have warned their colleagues on the Left that their deleterious actions cut both ways. If they intend to use the state’s resources to muzzle climate change skeptics, climate change alarmists, who spew weird science to advance hoaxes may also be subject to legal action. In June, they penned a letter noting that the effort to “police the global warming debate through the power of subpoena was a grave mistake” and urged their colleagues to “stop policing viewpoints.” 

The Left’s assault on free speech is an alarming trend that represents a grave danger to democratic values and principles. They employ code words like “safe spaces” and “First Amendment opportunism” to hide behind the fact that they are tearing apart the very fabric of the United States Constitution.

The oppressive tactics employed by Schneiderman, Walker and the remaining fifteen state attorneys general, is reminiscent of nefarious schemes employed by third world dictators to suppress dissent and keep the opposition in line. Those targeted by the power of subpoena will ultimately prevail because established legal precedent is on their side. But it may well be a pyrrhic victory given the vast sums they’ll be forced to expend to defend themselves against the limitless taxpayer funded resources of the state.


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