The session “Legal Advice for Scientists Interested in Activism” is one new addition to the conference program. Lauren Kurtz, an attorney with the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, said she suggested it after working with organizers of the March for Science — most of whom were researchers with no previous activism experience.
The guide is the creation of a group called the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. One of the group’s founders, Joshua Wolfe, and its executive director, Lauren Kurtz, made the decision to write it on the day after the election. “There is a lot of fear among scientists that they will become targets of people who are interested in science as politics, rather than progress,” Wolfe told me in an e-mail.
Other lawyers are stepping up to protect dozens of climate scientists who have been targeted by private conservative groups demanding their personal emails and other documents… The law professors who came to New York for training attended classes taught by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.
“We think it’s totally appropriate to FOIA for funding information and conflict of interest information,” Lauren Kurtz said. “When you’re getting into research emails and candid communication, I think that’s really harmful.” She added, “Short of something where you have actual evidence of criminal fraud, I think those things should be protected.”
“People can get very dogged in attacking climate scientists, and they can do things you would never think of,” Lauren Kurtz said in an interview with the HPR. She’s the executive director of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, based out of Columbia University, which defends scientists like Hayhoe from legal attacks.
The fear has pushed some agency scientists to seek advice from outside sources. Lauren Kurtz, executive director at the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, says several federal climate scientists have asked her about their legal options for speaking out. “One researcher just called to say hey, my boss has made it really hard for me to do my job. What can I do?” she said.
Executive Director Lauren Kurtz talks about CSLDF’s activities at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting and the development of our pocket guide: “Handling Political Harassment & Legal Intimidation.”
Executive director Lauren Kurtz and climate scientist Michael Mann discuss attacks on science in the Trump era.
CSLDF files a legal brief in support of federal climate scientists who are being sued by the conservative organization Judicial Watch.
CSLDF’s Peter Fontaine talks about how scientists can protect themselves when their work comes under political fire.
CSLDF’s Lauren Kurtz discusses David Schnare, a key member of the Trump transition team, and his anti-science agenda.
“These sorts of lawsuits, regardless of outcome, subtract months of labor from the scientific endeavor and cost public universities hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees,” CSLDF’s Lauren Kurtz said.
Executive Director Lauren Kurtz writes about how attacks on climate scientists endanger the scientific endeavor.