New York’s 1921 securities law, the Martin Act, was seldom used before former state attorney general Eliot Spitzer wielded it in a politicized crusade to root out corruption on Wall Street. Today, New York’s current attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is deploying the law (passed to shield us from bona fide financial fraud) as a sword to “investigate” another politically disfavored group: so-called climate change deniers.
The problem, says renowned legal scholar Richard Epstein, lies in the overly aggressive application of the Martin Act to mere predictions and matters of opinion rather than the statements of fact to which the law was meant to apply; and in the improper erosion of the law’s formerly well-recognized causation requirement. Please join professor Epstein as he discusses the use and continued controversy of the Martin Act—including its chilling implications for free speech.
Richard Epstein is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at New York University, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and visiting scholar at the Manhattan Institute. One of America’s most cited law professors, he holds degrees from Columbia University, Oxford University, and Yale University.