Ken Paxton

AG Paxton Leads 11-State Coalition to Defend the First Amendment on Climate Change Policy Debate

Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Austin

Leading an 11-state coalition, Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to support free speech in public policy debates. The brief explains that the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York exceeded their authority by attempting to silence and intimidate one side of the policy debate on climate change.

Last year, a coalition of state attorneys general, calling themselves the “AGs United for Clean Power,” announced plans to suppress the free speech rights of those who disagree with them on climate change. Following through with their promise, the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general demanded that that Dallas-based ExxonMobil Corporation turn over essentially every document in its possession concerning global warming or climate change for a period of nearly 40 years.

In their friend-of-the-court brief, Attorney General Paxton and 10 other state attorneys explain that State AGs have long used their official authority to determine whether unlawful conduct occurred.  However, this power does not include the right to engage in unrestrained, investigative excursions to promulgate an ideology, or chill the expression of points of view, in policy debates.

“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts such as this one, where officials use their authority and the threat of criminal prosecution to try and suppress speech on a viewpoint they disagree with,” Attorney General Paxton said.

In addition to Texas, the other states who joined the amicus brief are Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Arkansas.

View a copy of the amicus brief here.