A Virginia judge ruled against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in his suit against a prominent climate change scientist. Cuccinnelli—a climate change denier—is attempting to sue Professor Charles Mann for fraud, claiming that the professor misrepresented data when applying for state funds to study climate change while at the University of Virginia.
The Virginia Circuit Court Judge ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena request to receive documents from Mann and the University of Virginia was without merit. The court ruled that Cuccinelli had not demonstrated any reason to believe that Mann had committed fraud or that the University of Virginia held any relevant documents.
The ruling was both a victory for academic freedom and First Amendment rights as well as a blow for Virginia’s controversial Attorney General. Cuccinelli has gained national attention for using his office to launch expensive, and politically motivated, suits. The Attorney General’s office is currently suing the federal government, challenging the recently enacted healthcare law as unconstitutional. Cuccinelli is also suing the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to block the agency’s efforts to regulate climate-altering greenhouse gases.
Professor Mann called the ruling “a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically-motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests.”