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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Groups file brief supporting U.Va. in case against Cuccinelli

Groups file brief supporting U.Va. in case against Cuccinelli

Anita Kumar
by Anita Kumar, Virginia Politics Blog, The Washington Post, August 17, 2010

Four groups have filed an amicus brief asking a judge to set aside a demand from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents related to the research of a global warming expert once employed by the University of Virginia. Read the brief.

The brief was filed Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court by the ACLU of Virginia, American Association of University Professors, Union of Concerned Scientists and Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

"If the court permits the attorney general to gain access to the private communications among scientists whenever he disagrees with their ideas, the scientists will simply stop sharing their ideas," said Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. "The chilling effect on academic freedom and scientific inquiry is incalculable."

Cuccinelli issued a civil investigative demand in April, demanding research documents and e-mails related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann, who was employed at the university until 2005. Mann's work concludes that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming -- a conclusion Cuccinelli rejects.

Cuccinelli has said the results of Mann's research aren't at question but that he is investigating whether Mann defrauded Virginia taxpayers as he sought five public grants while employed at the university.

The university, ordinarily a client of the attorney general, has hired outside counsel to fight Cuccinelli's demand. They've asked an Albemarle County Circuit Court judge to set it aside, arguing that complying would compromise free inquiry at the university. Cuccinelli has asserted that academic freedom provides no shield to an investigation of possible fraud.

Arguments on U.Va's petition to set aside Cuccinelli's demands are scheduled to take place Friday afternoon in Charlottesville.


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