Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ended speculation on where he stands on free speech. According to Fox News, the justice wrote a furious dissent after the court decided not to take up a dispute between the National Review and climate science professor Michael Mann.
Alito stood up for free speech when the rest of the court declined to take up this important case.
Crushing free speech
The case between the National Review and Michael Mann arose when conservative journalist Mark Steyn, writing for the publication, pointed out that Mann’s “Hockey stick” climate model was misleading.
Mann’s data was inaccurate at best, and fraudulent at worst. The model attracted the most controversy when it was cited in the 2001 report by the IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The model was seen as a tool to drive climate change hysteria to advance a political agenda. It received a lot of criticism, especially from National Review.
Mann did not appreciate the criticism and demanded a retraction of Steyn’s article. When the publication refused, Mann leveled a defamation lawsuit against the publication and Steyn, as well as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which also criticised Mann’s work.
The case has been going through the legal system since 2012, nearly eight years ago. The legal fees and associated costs are astronomical — and National Review has taken a huge hit as a result.
Most recently, the case came before the Supreme Court as National Review was appealing Mann’s defamation suit. The court rejected the appeal, and Justice Alito did not take kindly to the decision.
He blasted the ruling, saying: “If citizens cannot speak freely and without fear about the most important issues of the day, real self-government is not possible.”
He went on: “To ensure that our democracy is preserved and is permitted to flourish, this Court must closely scrutinize any restrictions on statements that can be made on important public policy issues. Otherwise, such restrictions can easily be used to silence the expression of unpopular views.”
Matter of principle
This case is not about the Hockey stick model, nor is it about whether or not National Review is entitled to criticize someone’s work. This case is about punishing National Review with legal fees for daring to challenge Mann.
The Supreme Court has failed in its duty to defend the constitution. Mann has no case; National Review should be safely protected by the First Amendment. But despite his lack of a case, Mann has been able to keep the case moving through every appeals court in the nation.
The Supreme Court must hear this case and decide it quickly to protect the First Amendment as is their job. The Supreme Court also needs to set precedent about cases that are attempting to suppress constitutional freedoms via financial burden.