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Quashing Free Speech – See Exhibit A from Washington State

Should American businesses be investigated as criminals because of their public policy positions? That notion would strike most people as patently un-American. Yet today, a troublingly high number of manufacturers in the United States are being forced to mount costly legal defenses simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center recently published a thought-provoking, must-read column in National Review, in which he detailed how a cadre of activist Attorneys General, driven by political motives, are abusing their positions  to quash views on environmental and energy issues with which they happen to disagree. A prime example comes from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Myers writes:

Though they claimed otherwise, the AGs’ goal was to chill opposition to costly and ineffective climate policies pushed by the environmental Left. And while he was not the public face of the effort, [Washington attorney general] Ferguson’s actions are emblematic of how attempts to suppress speech manifest themselves in environmental policy. … A pledge was developed for AGs involved in the investigation and the lawsuit it threatened to produce. The pledge obligated signatories to ‘Support Progressive Federal Action,’ and to ‘Provide legal support to progressive state and regional actions’ on climate change. This was not a legal pledge. It was a political pledge. These public officials were using the power of the law to investigate political opponents.

Americans should be concerned about this turn of events. They should care about the misuse of the legal system to intimidate those who hold an opposing view. These politically motivated investigations threaten the ability of companies—not just manufacturers—to grow, invest and provide jobs to American workers across the nation. What’s more, they have no place in our legal system. There is a reason Lady Justice wears a blindfold.