WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Massachusetts Congressional delegation is urging U.S. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith to cease House Republicans’ blatant abuse of congressional subpoena authority in an effort to deny the causes of global climate change. In July, Smith issued subpoenas to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and eight environmental organizations, claiming that a coordinated environmentalist plot exists to deprive corporations of their First Amendment rights. The attorneys general are investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corporation violated state fraud laws by intentionally misleading the public—including investors—with respect to the impacts of climate change on its business.
In a letter demanding an end to the Republicans’ overreaching subpoenas, the Massachusetts delegation asserted that such abuse of authority was unprecedented and maintained that it “plainly infringes upon state law functions and oversteps the jurisdiction granted to Congress in the Constitution.”
The delegation wrote:
“State and federal courts – not Congressional Committees – are the proper arbiters of legal disputes between state attorneys general and private corporations. Congressional subpoenas should not be used as a vehicle for misguided and likely unconstitutional political tactics that could permanently harm the reputation of this body and undermine states’ abilities to carry out necessary functions.
“The Science Committee lacks jurisdiction over any of the relevant issues raised in this case, including state securities laws and your purported concerns about the ‘First Amendment rights of companies.’ The dispute in question is not a scientific one; it is a legal question about whether Exxon misled its investors and consumers. This dispute has no relevance to the Science Committee or its legislative or oversight jurisdiction.”
The text of the letter is available here.
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