This guide is intended to help researchers safely engage in advocacy and protests, and understand whether their activities are constitutionally protected.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the freedom of speech,” as well as “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” also known as the right to demonstrate. Different limitations to your rights may apply depending on whether you work for the government or a private institution.

Authored by CSLDF attorneys, with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the brochure is available as a free download to print and share.

Get the brochure.

This pamphlet concerns U.S. laws only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you have legal questions regarding a particular circumstance, please call your lawyer or contact us directly by emailing info@csldf.org or using our web form.

Thanks to the ACLU for guidance in creating this pamphlet and for allowing us to adopt parts of their published materials.

Open records laws are valuable tools for government transparency, enabling the public to request documents related to state and federally funded activities. However, these laws are increasingly misused to attack scientists who work on politically contentious topics such as climate change, pollution, and biomedicine in attempts to distort or undermine their research. The misuse of open records laws damages the scientific endeavor by diverting researchers’ time, threatening their privacy, and chilling candid scientific discussions. And by harming the scientific endeavor and interfering with scientific progress, the abuse of open records laws also harms human and environmental health.

Until the necessary protections for scientific research are included in open records laws, it is crucial that scientists understand the laws in their state. “A Guide to Open Records Laws and Protections for Research Materials” distills the open records laws in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia into an easy-to-use reference that describes how each state’s open records law can potentially be used to protect research materials.

Get the guide.

The guide highlights categories of research records that may be vulnerable to an invasive open records request and lists areas where there are ambiguities. It also describes examples of how that state has treated specific records in the past. Included are practical tips for labeling records to help scientists categorize materials that may be protected from disclosure and maximize the chances that their records will remain safe.

Visit our state map to see the guides for each state.

Produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists, with assistance from CSLDF attorneys, the guide “Make a Note to the Record,” is for federal scientists who are concerned about recent workplace changes that could imperil their agency’s ability to carry out its mission and conduct science for the public good.

One simple action scientists can take to protect institutional knowledge and their agency’s work is to keep detailed records. It is important for federal employees and grantees with science-related jobs to “make a note to the record” related to scientific integrity—that is, to document in real time any challenges, problems, or concerns related to an agency’s ability to conduct, utilize, and communicate about science in service of its public interest mission.

Though the tips in the guide are written with scientists in mind, they may also be useful to other federal employees and contractors.

The guide and more information about this project can be found on Union of Concerned Scientists website. Get the guide →

Please contact our staff attorneys if you have questions about conditions in your workplace or what to do with the information you record: laywer@csldf.org.

March for ScienceThe Climate Science Legal Defense Fund pamphlet, “March for Science: Know Your Rights,” was produced to help you understand whether your activities surrounding the April 22, 2017 March for Science — or any other demonstration — are constitutionally protected.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the freedom of speech,” as well as “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” also known as the right to demonstrate. Different limitations to your rights may apply depending on whether you work for the government or a private institution. If you are a federally funded scientist or a government employee, these constitutional rights may be limited in certain ways and open records laws may apply to you.

Authored by CSLDF attorneys, with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the pamphlet is available as a free download to print and share.

Get the brochure.

This pamphlet concerns U.S. laws only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you have legal questions regarding a particular circumstance, please call your lawyer or contact us directly by emailing info@csldf.org or using our web form.

Thanks to the ACLU for guidance in creating this pamphlet and for allowing us to adopt parts of their publications.

Climate scientists have been under attack for years. And as the scientific evidence for climate change has gotten stronger, the attacks have only gotten more aggressive.

In the new “post-truth” political environment, scientists must – sadly – be prepared for politically-motivated attacks. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund has produced this pocket guide to educate scientists on the legal risks they may face and to help scientists prepare and protect themselves.

Get the Pocket Guide.

This guide concerns only U.S. laws, and should not be taken as individual legal advice. If you are facing any of the situations described in this guide, or one not covered here, email lawyer@csldf.org or contact us via web form to receive a free consultation with an attorney who can discuss the specific laws and options that pertain to your case.

This report is the first in-depth analysis of the existing protections for scientific records, and their applications, in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

It explains each state’s treatment of scientific records and assigns the state a letter grade from A to F accordingly. The report includes statutes, cases, decisions, and other pertinent legal information and examples of how groups have tried to use open records laws to antagonize scientists.

The report is intended to help scientists and attorneys understand the best way to manage and respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and encourage policymakers to consider the special issues of scientific transparency and enact policies that protect these important materials.

Read the introduction.
View the 50 state report card and at a glance.
Download the full report.

The Silencing Science Tracker is a joint initiative of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Launched in January 2018, it keeps tabs on government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election.

At this time, the tracker only includes actions taken by the federal government. State-level actions will be added in the future.

The tracker, related resources, and more information about this project can be found on the Sabin Center website. Go to the tracker →

You may be inspired to send an open letter or create a public petition because of efforts to marginalize or suppress science. While the possibility of these activities resulting in legal action against you is small, there are things you can do to avoid putting yourself at risk when you advocate for science.

Get the guide.

This information contained in this guide concerns U.S. laws only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you have legal questions regarding a particular circumstance, please call your lawyer or contact us directly by emailing info@csldf.org or using our web form.

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