Virginia Supreme Court Ends Cuccinelli’s Case Against Climate Scientist


Blue Marble readers are no stranger to the story of Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who has been the subject of a number of right-wing attacks over the years. (See this feature or this video for starters.) For the past few years, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been on a quest to sift through Mann’s email and documents from his time at the University of Virginia to find evidence that he has been making climate change up.

But on Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Cuccinelli does not have the authority to force UVA to turn over Mannn’s documents. He had attempted to use the “Fraud Against Taxpayers Act” to demand the documents in his efforts to find something to show that Mann had indeed committed some act of “fraud” in his climate change research. Cuccinelli, of course, has made it clear he’s no fan of the conclusion that the earth is warming and it’s caused by human activity.

Mann sent Mother Jones a comment via email shortly after the Supreme Court issued its decision:

I’m pleased that this particular episode is over. Its sad, though, that so much money and resources had to be wasted on Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against me and the University of Virginia, when it could have been invested, for example, in measures to protect Virginia’s coast line from the damaging effects of sea level rise it is already seeing.

One would have hoped that the fact alone that the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation last year looked into the allegations by Cuccinelli and other climate change deniers against me, and found that there was absolutely no basis to them, would have ended the attacks against me. But as I describe in my just published book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, they are part of something much larger—a coordinated assault against the scientific community by powerful vested interests who simply want to stick their heads in the sand and deny the problem of human-caused climate change, rather than engage in the good faith debate about what to do about it.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.