Schneiderman as Lebron, Kazman as Ayesha
By David Henderson
Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General of New York state, accuses companies that defend their right to free speech of engaging in “First Amendment opportunism.” Somehow, probably because tonight’s basketball game is on mind, that reminds me of Lebron James’s comment that “it’s so hard to take the high road.” With Lebron, the “high road” happened after he stood over Draymond Green on the basketball court in Cleveland on Friday night and Draymond retaliated. With Schneiderman, he went after not only companies that defend their free speech rights but also think tanks that disagree with his views.
The best comeback to Lebron was from Steph Curry’s wife, Ayesha, who said:
High Road. invisible bridge used to step over said person when open floor is available left to right.
Schneiderman characterized the statements of the energy industry, and those of global warming skeptics generally, as fraud. When you hear a government official complain about fraud in a policy debate, he’s got his sights set on censorship, plain and simple. And in the context of global warming, his goal is not to win that debate through evidence, but by shutting one side down through “law enforcement.”
Not as punchy as Ayesha, but, hey, she was limited to 140 characters. [Disclosure: Sam Kazman and I have been friends since September 1975, when he was a law student at SUNY Buffalo and I was an assistant professor at the University of Rochester.]
Interestingly, at the 9:00 point of his speech, Schneiderman goes beyond his claim that companies don’t have the right to use free speech for fraud to the really scary claim, quoting Justice Rehnquist, that corporations don’t have the right to engage in political activity, even if not fraudulent. Schneiderman uses his own words but he correctly states the gist of Rehnquist’s point. Rehnquist wrote:
I can see no basis for concluding that the liberty of a corporation to engage in political activity with regard to matters having no material effect on its business is necessarily incidental to the purposes for which the Commonwealth permitted these corporations to be organized or admitted within its boundaries.
Here’s what Schneiderman doesn’t tell his audience, but, to their credit, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors caught it: Rehnquist’s statement was part of a dissent. The Supreme Court found by a 5-4 vote that corporations do have free speech rights. Hmmm. Not telling that part of the truth to the audience. Is Schneiderman a fraud? At least, he seems like a denier.