Ken Cuccinelli certainly is busy these days. The Virginia attorney general took office just seven months ago and has already distinguished himself as a real go-getter. So far he has:
- Challenged the federal health care bill in court as an unconstitutional violation of the interstate commerce clause
- Advised the state’s universities that they cannot legally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression
- Authorized law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop
- Temporarily adopted a new state seal, replacing the one designed by Declaration of Independence signer George Wythe and in use since 1776, because it depicted the Roman deity Virtus’ exposed left breast
- Okayed Christmas displays on public property as long as non-Christian and secular symbols are welcome as well
- Sought judicial review of the EPA’s findings that greenhouse gases can be dangerous to the public’s health
- Challenged new fuel standards set by the EPA and Obama administration
- Concluded the Health Department can toughen standards for first-trimester abortion clinics, even though the General Assembly rejected a bill to do so
Cuccinelli lately had his eye on former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann, whose publicly-funded research on climate change Cuccinelli said defrauded taxpayers (Mann now teaches at Penn State). A judge on the Albemarle County Circuit Court Monday rejected Cuccinelli’s request for Mann’s documents and records. The judge found that Cuccinelli had no reasonable basis for believing Mann had defrauded taxpayers and therefore for requesting the documents. The ruling left open the possibility for Cuccinelli to refile civil motions if he can provide more proof for his allegations.
It’s worth noting that an independent investigation of Mann’s work at Penn State found no misconduct in his research.
Reactions from the legal (“Virginia State Judge Screws the Cooch,” says Above the Law), academic (“Win for Researcher Rights,” screams Inside Higher Ed) and scientific (“Virginia Judge Sets Aside Climate Subpoena,” the more reserved ScienceBlogs states) communities has been generally critical of Cuccinelli.
“The Cooch is tripping,” Above the Law said simply.
Writing for Discover, Phil Plait sums up the situation:
In the end, I don’t think Cuccinelli is going to get any traction with this case, except perhaps politically. He has been – haha – feeling the heat about this recently. No fewer than four science/free speech advocacy groups filed an amicus brief against Cuccinelli, there have been numerous press releases by the Union of Concerned Scientists (a group I am hit or miss with, but on this they’ve nailed it), and – while it was unrelated to this case specifically – the EPA has chimed in, rejecting anti-global warming claims.
Cuccinelli is a climate change denier, plain and simple. His attack against Mann was ill-advised and based on nothing but noise. After all the overwhelming evidence against his claims, if Cuccinelli continues to pursue this case I hope people come to realize who is really wasting taxpayers’ money.
Don’t worry, there’s certainly been reaction from the right. Chris Horner at BigGovernment.com seriously questioned the judge’s decision because he failed to disclose that his wife used to work for U.Va.’s Department of Environmental Sciences. Even still, Horner said he thought Cuccinelli would prevail. “I attended the hearing a week ago Friday at which the parties argued the University’s motion to dismiss,” he writes. “The Deputy AG Wesley Russell’s arguments dominated, so badly I almost felt sorry for the University [sic].”