Press groups file amici curiae brief in ‘Mann v. Steyn’ defamation lawsuit

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 26 other organizations filed an amici curiae brief on August 11 with the DC Court of Appeals in Michael Mann’s defamation lawsuit against the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Review (sometimes popularly referred to as ‘Mann v. Steyn’). Prof. Mann is scheduled to file an appellate response brief on September 3.

Full text of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press et al. amici curiae brief is here.

The brief argues that the appeals court should take jurisdiction in deciding on the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and agrees with the essential substantive arguments made by defendants in their motion to dismiss the case. Mann and the defendants have laid out their opposing arguments on the merits in earlier briefs before the original trial court.

The brief argues that, in denying a motion to dismiss, the trial court “erred on the merits by failing to treat the commentaries at issue as constitutionally protected opinion and fair comment. The challenged statements were made in settings and using language that conveyed they were opinions.”

Thus, the position of the press organizations seems essentially to be that statements that many might regard as defamatory — libelous or slanderous — should be allowable as part of freewheeling media discourse and not be actionable. Their view that such speech in the media should be virtually unrestricted is not surprising. It’s certainly an arguable view and the brief argues it strongly. It’s not clear where they would draw the line on what constitutes actionable defamation.

Prof. Mann has responded earlier to these arguments, most of them at least, in his earlier filings. He is scheduled to file an appellate brief with the Court of Appeals on September 3. Then we’ll see where the court comes down on it.

Stay tuned.

Most recent earlier posts in our series on this case:

Michael Mann motion to dismiss Mark Steyn’s counter-suit via DC court anti-SLAPP provision (March 18)

More on Mann v. National Review et al. (March 3)

Setting the record straight on misleading claims against Michael Mann (February 25)

Defendants’ appeal in Michael Mann defamation case further delays discovery process (January 25)

DC judge denies defendants’ motion to dismiss Michael Mann’s defamation complaint (January 23)

Note on comment moderation policy: comments on this post, other posts on this case, and on our posts in general, are moderated based on our judgment with regard to relevance, timeliness, respect for climate science and scientists, and trolling.

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6 Responses to Press groups file amici curiae brief in ‘Mann v. Steyn’ defamation lawsuit

  1. Desertphile says:

    Stating as a fact that a specified individual has committed fraud, when the stater knows the statement is false, is not protected by the First Amendment. The lie was spewed out of malice, which has already been demonstrated. This is not a “free speech” issue: it’s an issue of abuse.

    • Andy says:

      Although this article doesn’t get into it, the interesting aspect (to me) of this case is the Steyn case (he has split with the other defendants). Mark Steyn seems to genuinely want a trial, and has tried multiple times to begin discovery of Professor Mann and his research. Basically, Steyn wants to have a full look at Mann’s research because he believes he can prove his statements and opinions to be, at the very least, not factually incorrect (and thus on libel).

      My question is, why not have the trial? Professor Mann can present his data, formulas, and methods and bring in scientists to back him up (while being cross examined), and then Steyn can bring in his own scientists (who will be cross examined) to rebut the plaintiffs. At the end of the day, if Mann is able to prove his case he will win.

      • Rick - Climate Science Watch says:

        Unless I’m mistaken, this case, when and if it gets to trial, won’t play out anything like the science ‘debate’ you’d like to see. As Greg Laden points out in a blog post on this matter:

        “The judicial system is not being asked to arbitrate about the science or to address ‘rejection’ of any scientific work by anyone. It is easy to prove that Michael Mann is engaged in a number of scientific debates. This one and this one come to mind. This is not about defining or interpreting the science, never was, can not possibly be interpreted that way by an honest observer. …

        “A law suit about science interpretation or public policy would have been tossed out first thing.

        “The law suit is about a very specific and actionable libelous accusation of professional misconduct, not about the validity of Mann’s research, or the reality of global warming. … Mann is [not] suing someone who disagreed with him. … [T]his is not what the suit is about.”

        See < http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/08/14/larry-clifton-on-michael-manns-suit-nope-wrong-sorry/>

  2. Ben Joseph says:

    Note on comment moderation policy: comments on this post, other posts on this case, and on our posts in general, are moderated based on our judgment with regard to relevance, timeliness, respect for climate science and scientists, and trolling.
    ==========
    In other words, if you don’t agree and voice that opinion, then we’ll “Michael Mann” you.
    It is a shame that we’re to the point where criticisms of climate change cannot be made without some sort of political motive or sensitivity backlash.

    • Rick - Climate Science Watch says:

      This website has an editorial policy that does not allow global warming denialists and flamers to hijack the space. We’ve seen it happen too often elsewhere and we’re not interested in that kind of scene. We have posted multiple viewpoints that make a contribution to the discussion. Do you have a contribution, or are you just trolling?

  3. Many thanks to you for providing a link to the actual filings.

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