SKINNER: Supreme Court Appeal Shines Light On Left’s Dark Money Climate Lawsuit Machine

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O.H. Skinner Contributor
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A new Supreme Court appeal is shining a spotlight on a dark-money law firm at the center of a left-wing campaign to implement a version of the Green New Deal via courtrooms across the country. 

The appeal comes out of Hawaii. Honolulu filed suit against a long list of energy companies over the effects of climate change, seeking billions of dollars to fund various efforts to counteract the effects of global climate change (read: pay for left-wing energy and environmental policies while driving up the price of gas). And the Hawaii Supreme Court — now famous for citing the “Spirit of Aloha” as a basis to reject a Second Amendment claim — has decided that the case can proceed and Honolulu can seek an order curtailing energy production nationwide or other relief that would help undo global climate change.

The energy companies have lined up a bevy of elite corporate lawyers and gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to step in to review the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision, which would open the door for the U.S. Supreme Court to put a stop to cases like this across the nation. 

On the other side of the case, and at the center of the other cases like it across the country, is Sher Edling LLP. This “boutique” practice of around two dozen activist lawyers deals almost exclusively with environmental cases on behalf of progressive enclaves like Honolulu, Oakland, D.C. and California. 

Sher Edling isn’t like most private law firms. For starters, most law firms aren’t floating on boatloads of cash from various left-wing dark money entities. 

For example, Sher Edling accepts millions from the Arabella Advisors network, the veritable ATM of the left that controlled $1.5 billion as of 2021. The New Venture Fund, an Arabella entity, gave $2.5 million to Sher Edling in 2022 alone. And then there is the more than $5 million that Sher Edling collected between 2017 and 2020 from Resources Legacy Fund, which in turn collects money from liberal grant makers such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and is one of the pass-through entities Leonardo DiCaprio used when he donated $20 million to support “precedent-setting legal actions” against “the fossil fuel industry.”

It is good that this new appeal out of Hawaii is shining a spotlight on Sher Edling, because the firm’s well-mapped connections to liberal dark money tell us a lot about what these climate change public nuisance cases are actually about. 

You see, while the firm and its clients claim they are using ordinary state-law tools to collect compensation for environmental injuries, the trail of donations and the projects that these donors push in other areas help clarify that their real goal is to enact left-wing policies through the courts and impose progressive lifestyle choices across the country via judicial edict. That’s the only option they have left, after the Green New Deal failed miserably in Congress and in state houses across the country.

For the ideological left in this country, it is not enough for Honolulu or Oakland to live the progressive ideal. They need to bankrupt disfavored industries and change policy nationwide, forcing everyone toward the progressive ideal. And these lawsuits, backed by Sher Edling’s dark money, are a crucial tool in that effort.

My organization, Alliance for Consumers, has documented the trail of money to Sher Edling, what that trail of donations says about the firm’s work, and how these public nuisance climate change cases serve the firm’s true goals. 

Sher Edling knows that when you present global climate change as someone’s legal responsibility and win a legal judgment to that effect, you might as well own the lawshit’s target. You now have a multi-billion-dollar whip hand to drive the unlucky corporate entity wherever you want them to go, and a ticket to fund your dream list of public policy efforts. 

Left unchecked, this strategy will eventually give the left unfathomable wealth to support their ideological wish list. It will also give them a dominant position over countless corporate titans as well as our energy supply. That is why it would be a major win for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Honolulu case.

But the mere fact that the case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court is already a minor victory. If nothing else, it’s helping to force Sher Edling into the light and reveal what is really going on with these cases and their dark-money backers.

O.H. Skinner is executive director of Alliance for Consumers and the former solicitor general of Arizona.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.