Left of Center: Kent Willis of the ACLU on Climategate

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has invoked the Patriot Act-inspired Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act to demand that the University of Virginia turn over years of private correspondence between former professor Michael Mann and other climate researchers. The demand conspicously omits one requirement of FATA — spelling out exactly how Mann would have committed fraud against the state.

Facing a precendent-setting first-ever use of FATA against an institution of higher education, the university is fighting back. Virginia ACLU Executive Director Kent Willis explains how the Virginia ACLU, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Association of University Professors are joining forces to file a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Cuccinelli is way out of line, threatening academic freedom with a thinly-veiled political stunt. The outcome of this battle will say volumes about what academic freedom really amounts to in Virginia.