I enjoyed the running joke of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in the great Dickens novel Bleak House, back when I first read it.
Little did I know that one day I and the magazine that I love would effectively be caught up in a version of that interminable case, courtesy of a litigious climate scientist with zero regard for the First Amendment.
For those who need a refresher as we begin our 2019 Fall Webathon, Jarndyce v. Jarndyce was a lawsuit over an inheritance that ran on for generations, eventually accumulating so many legal fees that it wiped out the estate in question, making all the litigation pointless.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, over the course of time, become so complicated, that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least; but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit.
This is a little like Mann v. National Review, which has droned on for seven years with little or no action, except the litigation emphatically has a point. Michael Mann is the climate scientist famous for his “hockey stick” graph of climate change over the ages, whose purpose in suing us is clear enough — to bleed us of time and, most importantly, resources, in order to punish us for having the temerity to harshly criticize his work.
If this doesn’t sound like a project in keeping with the spirit or the letter of the First Amendment, it is because it’s obviously not.
All I need to do is Google my own name or open my Twitter mentions to see excoriating criticisms of my work, my views, and my personality, among many other things associated with me and this publication. It never occurred to me to sue anyone over any of this because I have a keen awareness of the fact that we live in a free society (for now).
Michael Mann apparently lacks this awareness, or at least he hasn’t fully absorbed the implications.
So much the worse for him, but the system is supposed to have procedural and legal protections against the abuse of the courts to harass publications in violation of the First Amendment.
For seven long years, the courts have failed to bring to bear those protections in this case. Meanwhile, the very harm that is supposed to be avoided — the harassment of a publication for exercising its rights — has taken place. Our operations have hardly ground to a halt, but we’ve had to devote time to the litigation and, more importantly for a cash-strapped little magazine like ours, spend money defending ourselves.
Those funds would be much better spent hiring another writer or editor, or holding debates and events around the country, or on a thousand different things directly related to our cause. Instead, we have been compelled by this suit to divert resources from exercising our First Amendment rights to fighting a litigant determined to crimp them.
We have no idea if Mann has some anonymous backer funding his litigation, but he very well might. I can assure you, though, that we have none. All we have is you, which is why we are asking you to chip in whatever you can to help us out.
If you think that robust exchanges of opinion are what make this country great, if you are sick of a climate alarmism that tolerates no dissent, if you fear that the Left’s cancel culture is completely out of control, if you believe the First Amendment is an essential part of the most inspired governing document in the history of man, then I hope you will contribute to our fundraising drive.
I said a little earlier that fighting Michael Mann’s harassing litigation serves to distract us from advocating for our cause. Actually, that’s not quite right. Fighting this litigation has become one of our causes.
We seek to defend our constitutional order every day from the growing assault on it as retrograde or racist. We recently devoted an entire issue of the magazine to pushing back against Elizabeth Warren’s misbegotten and lawless agenda. We’ve excoriated Beto O’Rourke for his heedless attacks on the Second, and now the First, Amendments. Our fight against the Michael Mann litigation is part and parcel of this effort, which is why we’re currently petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case and vindicate the rights of all publishers in this matter.
It always awes us how our readers have our back and we hope you will with regard to this absurd and abusive lawsuit.
Michael Mann wants to shut us up, and by extension shut up everyone on the other side of the climate debate. He can’t be permitted to succeed and we will fight this as long as we have breath. Please join us.
(Donations to the 2019 Fall Webathon can be made here. Contributions to National Review Inc., while vitally important, are not tax deductible. If you prefer to donate by check, please make yours payable to “National Review” and mail it to National Review, ATTN: 2019 Fall Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036.)
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Please note that contributions to National Review, Inc., while vitally important, are not tax deductible.