Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Law and Courts NEWS

Refer Questions of Scientific Controversy to the FBI?

Questions about global warming turn upon clashes of legitimate scientific opinion. The climate controversy is not a focus for us here, but preserving the freedom to debate unsettled science very much is. So some comments of Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee were troubling. From CNSNews:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged Wednesday that there have been discussions within the Department of Justice about possibly pursuing civil action against so-called climate change deniers.

"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," Lynch said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Justice Department operations.

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.

Referring huge questions of science to a federal judge for adjudication is bad enough. That's what Judge John Jones did -- a self-referral -- in the 2005 Dover trial. From his Harrisburg, PA, courtroom, Jones took it on himself to decide the age-old question of whether nature gives evidence of design. "Referring" matters of scientific debate to the FBI takes the presumption of Judge Jones to a whole new and more sinister level.

The idea of going after climate skeptics under the RICO Act is not new and has been entertained by some prominent scientists and by the Attorney General of New York State. That the U.S. Attorney General does not dismiss using the law in such a way comes as an unwelcome surprise.

Emily Zanotti at The American Spectator writes:

I suspect what they've considered, rather than a massive court case against an entire industry, is the RICO charge suggestion posed by a few dedicated climate scientists and the New York Attorney General, forcing companies and organizations to turn over financial information to see whether they've pushed an anti-Climate Change legislation policy agenda, "disrupting" the government's ability to effectively address the issue of global warming with industry-crippling regulations that would do more to punish administration dissidents than they would to curb carbon emissions.

As I've said before, one hesitates to give ideas to censors operating in other areas of scientific disagreement. But Darwinists are not shy about using power to silence dissent, nor do they lack inventiveness in seeking new ways to do so. It would be surprising if schemes like this haven't crossed their minds.