In California, legislators and attorneys general are attempting to abrogate the First Amendment and gain the power to prosecute those who engage in rational policy debate regarding climate change. Under the auspices of fraud, California bill SB 1161, titled “California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016,” would contort having a dissenting scientific opinion regarding climate change into “unfair competition” and “fraud.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and cadre, 16 other state attorneys general, have been trying to pursue businesses and individuals who have dissenting policy views on climate change and its effects. The bill was introduced by state senator Ben Allen and has subsequently been defeated, however, this push by Democrats nationwide has continued a march against liberty and towards Orwellian goodthink.
The First Amendment clearly errs on the side of more speech. In fact, had SB 1161 been enacted into law, it would bear a presumption against its constitutional validity. N.Y. Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 714 (1971). The discussion of climate change policy is an exceptionally important topic. For example, whether the recent drought and wildfires in California were caused by climate change or inept government agents allocating resources for the benefit of their cronies at the expense of their constituent’s best interest is a topic that must be met with robust discussion, not legal action for fraud.
Under my reading of §§8 and 9 of SB 1161, my immediately preceding sentence would expose me to criminal prosecution in California.
A free people cannot permit such a result. As the greatest jurist never to make it to the Supreme Court once said,
What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.
Quote adopted from Irving Dilliard, The Spirit of Liberty: Papers and Addresses of Learned Hand, 189-190 (3d ed. 1974).
As an example of one of the criminals who could be prosecuted under SB 1161, venerable scientist Freeman Dyson would be exposed to criminal prosecution in California for his rigorous dissent regarding the effects of climate change:
Arbitrarily deciding what is the “truth” and punishing dissenters is absolutely a progression towards totalitarianism. Under no reading of the First Amendment and its jurisprudence could any law survive that would seek to control dissent on such an important public policy debate, however, there continues to be strong support for such a law and merely being unconstitutional has not stopped thousands of other laws from being passed and heralded with thunderous applause. Those who support such laws must be exposed for the tyrants they are.
Fortunately, I do not live in California, I live in Virginia and we have a saying here: Sic semper tyrannis.