WSJ on climate RICO

An editorial in this morning’s Wall Street Journal is blunt:

Advocates of climate regulation are urging the Obama Administration to investigate people who don’t share their views.

Last month George Mason Professor Jagadish Shukla and 19 others signed a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and White House science adviser John Holdren urging punishment for climate dissenters. “One additional tool — recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse — is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change,” they wrote.

In other words, they want the feds to use a law created to prosecute the mafia against lawful businesses and scientists. … [RICO] can inflict treble damages upon a defendant. Enacted to stop organized crime and specifically to prosecute individuals tied to loansharking and murder-for-hire, it was long seen as so powerful a tool that the government warned prosecutors to limit its use.

The scientists’ RICO letter was “inadvertently posted” on the website of a group almost entirely funded by taxpayers [Ian Tuttle, National Review Online; Coyote] Rob Nikolewski at has more on the letter and its aftermath, and quotes me:

Walter Olson, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, thinks that’s a dangerous step to take.

“This is core political persuasion,” Olson told “If this is illegal racketeering, then potentially an awful lot of things that people debate about are also illegal racketeering … It’s a dangerous power because it won’t be used even-handedly.”

Earlier coverage here, here, etc. Some possible insight into litigation strategies of climate-RICO promoters at Inside Climate News here and here.


  • Of course. This anti-social behavior is a threat to all the good people of the party and what they stand for.

  • Have these people lost the ability to stick their fingers in their ears, squinch their eyes closed an scream “Lalalalalala! I can’t hear you!”?


  • Walter, are you engaging in article placement irony?

    This blog appears a couple after the one recounting that after decades of consensus science that drinking whole milk was unhealthy, it has been concluded the conclusion is “Not so much.”

    And, it wasn’t so long ago that the consensus science was that ulcers were caused by stress. Research suggesting a bacteriological cause was first met with derision.

    Just think of the progress that would have been made if RICO had been applied to that research.

  • I’m sure the George Mason professoriate is bemused by adverse reaction to their proposal (if, that is, they even noticed it).

    That’s how the smart people do it on campus. How can it be controversial?