We knew Attorney General Loretta Lynch was no friend (to put it charitably) of the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment, and is not a strong supporter (again I am being very charitable) of private property rights and the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty.
But Wednesday, during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lynch outdid herself when it came to her disregard for the First Amendment:
In response to a question from Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse, Lynch admitted that the Justice Department had considered taking legal action against those who dare deny (or fund the work of those who deny) climate change:
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) raised the issue, drawing a comparison between possible civil action against climate change deniers and civil action that the Clinton administration pursued against the tobacco industry for claiming that the science behind the dangers of tobacco was unsettled.
“The similarities between the mischief of the tobacco industry pretending that the science of tobacco’s dangers was unsettled and the fossil fuel industry pretending that the science of carbon emissions’ dangers is unsettled has been remarked on widely, particularly by those who study the climate denial apparatus that the fossil fuel industry has erected,” Whitehouse said.
“Under President Clinton, the Department of Justice brought and won a civil RICO action against the tobacco industry for its fraud. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice has done nothing so far about the climate denial scheme,” Whitehouse added.
“A request for action by the Department of Justice has been referred by you to the FBI. My question to you is other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.
“Senator, thank you for raising that issue, and thank you for your work in this area. I know your commitment is deep. This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on. I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time,” said Lynch.
“I will look into that and get back to you, but I’m not aware of a civil referral outside of the one that you just raised,” added Lynch.
“Are there any civil cases with the United States as plaintiff within DOJ’s civil division in which the FBI is preparing the case for the civil division?” Whitehouse asked.
“Are you regarding climate change issues?” Lynch asked.
“Regarding any matter,” Whitehouse asked.
“I couldn’t give you that information right now in terms of whether or not—” Lynch responded.
“I will take that as a question for the record,” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse has long advocated legal action against climate change "deniers." As disturbing as it is that a US Senator would advocate using government power to silence those he disagrees with, it is even more disturbing that an Attorney General would actually consider having the FBI investigate whether advocacy questioning climate change is somehow a criminal act.
This idea could be applied to other controversial viewpoints-- for example maybe a future Attorney General will unleash the FBI on those who dare deny the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve or dare deny that we need the surveillance state to keep us safe.
Campaign for Liberty opposes any and all attempts by the government to prosecute the expression of political opinions. Please support our efforts.
Tags: First Amendment, Loretta Lynch, Climate Change