Groups ask court to block Cuccinelli on climate case

Four defenders of academic freedom have joined forces to file an amicus brief asking a Virginia judge to set aside a demand from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents related to the research of a global warming expert once employed by the University of Virginia.

Signing the amicus brief, filed on Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court, are the ACLU of Virginia, American Association of University Professors, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Cuccinelli, whose opposition to global warming theories is well known, created a public stir earlier this year when he sought records from UVA related to the communications and research of former professor Michael Mann, a widely published proponent of global warming theory. Among the broad range of records sought were e-mails that Mann sent to and received from colleagues since 1999.

After learning of Cuccinelli’s demand for information on Mann and reading media reports indicating that UVa. was inclined to comply, the American Association of University Professors and the ACLU of Virginia urged university officials to exercise their right to oppose the demand.

In late May, lawyers for UVa. filed papers in court arguing that the attorney general does not have the authority to demand the records and private communications of a college professor without justification. Today’s amicus brief supports UVa.’s position.

“If the court permits the attorney general to gain access to the private communications among scientists whenever he disagrees with their ideas, the scientists will simply stop sharing their ideas,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “The chilling effect on academic freedom and scientific inquiry is incalculable.”

A copy of the amicus brief filed today is available online at

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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