There is an article in National Review Online by Charles C.W. Cooke detailing the lastest developments in the Mann v. National Review court case, in which the University of Pennsylvania professor at the center of the Climategate scandal is suing National Review for libel or defamation or something. If you’re not familiar with the case, or the infamous “hockey stick” episode, in which data and computer modeling were manipulated to produce a narrative that global warming is manmade, please bone up on it at your convenience.
Cooke explains the legal niceties involved, and the absurdity of Mann’s lawsuit and gets to the core of the issue: the First Amendment guarantee of the right to freedom of speech, including the right to criticize, and the right to opinion. Besides the obvious First Amendment link, Cooke points to this:
Later, Carvin made explicit what is at stake in this case. “We don’t allow juries to decide scientific questions,” he observed, before asking rhetorically whether anybody would consider it to be acceptable for a court to decide whether “vaccinations lead to autism.” “No court in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence has allowed a scientific question to go to a jury,” he warned. “If this court goes down this road,” he added, “it will turn every political debate — gun control, voter ID — into what a jury thinks about one person’s interpretation of data.”
All of this is of course quite concerning, but if there is any consolation at all to freedomlovers, if Mann gets his standing/day in court/jury trial/damage award or remedy, or worse the earth shattering precedent of throwing the first amendment in the toilet, at least a jury would have been involved.
In matters of science, and bureaucratic functioning, and the sticking of noses into matters not under purview and such, there is at least one instance where the court system interceded itself and it didn’t involve a jury.
(Actually there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, but this is a handy and pertinent example.)
Overruling U.S. wildlife officials, a federal judge Tuesday restored protections for gray wolves in Wyoming but left intact a determination that the species has recovered and is not endangered or threatened “in a significant portion” of its northern Rocky Mountains range.
Idaho and Montana officials had previously been given oversight of the wolves in their states because populations had rebounded and their management plans met federal requirements.
But in her opinion Tuesday from the nation’s capital, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that it was “arbitrary and capricious” for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to rely on Wyoming’s “nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision.”
So is one person, even a “federal judge” any more qualified to rule or even insert itself in any manner on what the decision of a regulatory agency should be in a matter “scientific” the data and conservatory methodology surrounding a wildlife population?
Indeed, one could go even further and question whether the Fish and Wildlife service should even exist, but if it does, is it not the responsibility of the Congress to oversee it, and not a rogue judge sitting in Washington,DC and opining on nature in Wyoming? And of course there is the not insignificant matter of We the People PAYING FOR not only all these bureaucrats and ‘scientists” feeding at the public trough, but also the hundreds and hundreds of “judiciocrats” who put themselves above the construct of the Constitution.
Not least of all in the discussion is the fact that the American economy has suffered to the tune of billions, if not trillions, of dollars due to both Congressional Acts and regulatory strictures imposed due in no small part to the machinations of the Climategate conspirators and their ilk. It is the epitome of gall for Mann and whoever backs or abets him to claim they are above critique….by anybody!
If science is not within the purview of the media, or of private citizens, or politicians or political organizations ‘not of the left’to comment on, as Michael Mann would have, what in our Constitution allows the judiciary to insert itself in that void?
Little does that federal judge, nor probably many others, realize that her ruling that a federal agency didn’t have authority to act under it’s statutory powers due to disputes over facts, or “data”, could be used as a cudgel against the federal Leviathan if some enterprising entity, or Sovereign State, wanted to pursue it. EPA, anyone?
So it is not only the question of one person in the public domain, and by that we mean a supposed “prominent” scientist who along with his institution and his comrades is on the public dole to support his….habits….being able to throttle scrutiny of said habits, it is also the question of a branch of the US Government assuming unto itself a role that the Mann’s of the world would have that same judiciary deny to “We the People”.
And for us ordinary bloggers and bloviators out here in America, one more point brought out in the Cooke article hits really close to home:
Because such disagreements constitute “different interpretations” and “subjective views,” and because debate over the merits of scientific techniques is protected under the First Amendment, Grossman proposed, “there can be no liability” for such statements. Indeed, he added, there is nothing to distinguish Simberg’s words from the sort of “sharp-elbowed commentary you hear every day on cable news” and “on the Internet.”
“…… and on the Internet.”
So ladies and gentlemen (of the jury?), what is your verdict? Is there a probable cause to restrict that “sharp elbowed commentary” exhibited by Mssrs. Steyn and Simberg? Of course not. Likely won’t happen. But the point is the continual chipping away at the Fundamental Freedoms will not stop. The National Statists, of every stripe, politically, philosophically, culturally and professionally, are in the constant enterprise of assuming unto themselves what is not rightfully theirs and diminishing that which belongs to The States, or to The People. They will use the jurists and the jurists will allow themselves to be used. They are not immune to the Power Lust.
So would you like a little ‘Net Neutrality’ with that? Comes next the court decision, or the judicial ruling, or bureaucratic regulation or executive diktat that YOUR comments had better be provable or, preferably, neutral. Steyn, Simberg and even the National Review are but small fish. Ultimately, they are coming for YOU.