Another victory over SLAPP hounds: Mann vs American Tradition Institute

The rather Orwellian sounding American Tradition Institute has lost its bid to get their hands on scientist Michael Mann’s private email correspondence. It was an attempted fishing expedition, which failed:

A Virginia court has affirmed the University of Virginia’s right to withhold confidential scholarly communications, thus ruling against the global warming denialist American Tradition Institute’s demand to make public climate scientist Michael Mann’s documents and email correspondence with dozens of other scientists during his time at UVa. This is an important victory in a case that threatened to send a chilling message to university scholars that they could no longer expect to engage in personal communications without having the whole world reading over their shoulders.

See also  Dr. Mann’s Facebook page.

The ATI’s actions are a perfect example of “releasing the SLAPP hounds“. Many of these think tanks and groups adopt the same aggressive and harassing legal tactics:

Operating on the premise that a good offence is the best defence, groups like Heartland leap to attack and threats of lawsuits in order to silence their critics.

In many respects, the Heartland Institute mirrors the Church of Scientology (CoS) in its aggressive attempts to silence critics via the threat of litigation.

SLAPP is an acronym for strategic lawsuit against public participation, defined here:

“The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat…”

So what to the good folks at the ATI have to say about this? Nothing on their media release page yet.

It will  be worth watching to see how they spin this.


  • It will be spun as a loss for transparency, freedom, Mom and apple pies – in other words they’ll sidestep the humiliating defeat and rush to the patriotism defence (i.e. “We’re just concerned American citizens fighting for our rights and freedom of speech against tyrannical scientists!”)
  • They’ll pledge to continue “fighting the good fight”, but like the good snake-oil sales people they will ask for more funding and donations.

2 thoughts on “Another victory over SLAPP hounds: Mann vs American Tradition Institute

  1. Nick says:

    As a demonstration of good faith, Heartland, and other nauseatingly named ‘institutes’ like American Tradition, will turn over all their confidential communications relating to SLAPP campaigns and inter-‘institutional’ co-operations…..


  2. […] 2012/09/17: WtD: Another victory over SLAPP hounds: Mann vs American Tradition Institute […]

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