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Annals of meritless cause litigation

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"If you want to send a message, use Western Union." As with the recently dismissed Common Cause suit against the filibuster, however, we often see activists trying to craft legislative policy with the courts. Thankfully, courts are more reluctant to play philosopher-king than fifty years ago, and in some cases, defendants are fighting back.

  • ASPCA and several other organizations brought a trumped-up suit in 2000 against Ringling Brothers in an attempt to bar its use of elephants. The lead-witness plaintiff's sole source of income, however, was $190,000 paid by the animal-rights organizations for bringing the suit; the federal court found his after-the-fact allegations of emotional distress from witnessing elephant mistreatment were not credible. The parent company, Feld Entertainment countersued for the malicious litigation, and ASPCA recently settled—for a jaw-dropping $9.3 million. The RICO countersuit remains pending against several other defendants; CNN quotes the Humane Society as denying the allegations against it. [Ringling Bros. litigation website; ASPCA press release; Daily Caller; WSJ via Adler @ Volokh; Overlawyered on the case for years; Steele]
  • CEI files an anti-SLAPP motion against Michael Mann after he sues them for libel for criticizing him. [CEI; earlier on POL (see which for disclaimers)]
  • Per @andrewgrossman, "Lawsuits seek to generate 'awareness' of global warming, cost states a bundle." [Greenwire]
  • Speaking of a waste of taxpayer dollars, Walter Olson has the tale of the taxpayer-funded University of Maryland law clinic trying to destroy state jobs with an expensive meritless environmental suit against a local family farm. The clinic lost and is hoping to appeal. [Olson @ Balt. Sun; Overlawyered link roundup]

Compare and contrast: the case of Ed Blum, who has been bringing successful cases to the Supreme Court to enforce the Constitution's requirement of race-neutrality. [Biskupic @ Reuters]

As I've previously said, there's a lot of opportunity for the motivated conservative legal entrepreneur.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.