This bit of news (which you won’t find on any of the Big Five TV news networks because they’re too busy freaking out over a former New York politician’s having a virtual affair with somebody) comes to us from Mother Jones via Whiskey Fire:

A judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia is allowing a defamation suit that climate scientist Michael Mann filed against conservative commentators to move forward.

Last year, Mann sued the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute over blog posts accusing him of lying about climate science. The NRO post called his research “fraudulent,” and the CEI post accused him of “scientific misconduct.” NRO also twice quoted another blogger who referred to Mann as “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” comparing him to the Pennsylvania State University football coach convicted of child molestation last year.

Both NRO and CEI had filed motions to dismiss, stating that attacking Mann in this manner is allowed by the First Amendment. The judge, Natalia M. Combs Greene, disagreed, and on July 19 denied both motions. From the CEI ruling:

Plaintiff has been investigated several times and his work has been found to be accurate. In fact, some of these investigations have been due to the accusations made by the CEI Defendants. It follows that if anyone should be aware of the accuracy (or findings that the work of Plaintiff is sound), it would be the CEI Defendants. Thus, it is fair to say that the CEI Defendants continue to criticize Plaintiff due to a reckless disregard for truth. Criticism of Plaintiff’s work may be fair and he and his work may be put to the test. Where, however the CEI Defendants consistently claim that Plaintiff’s work is inaccurate (despite being proven as accurate) then there is a strong probability that the CEI Defendants disregarded the falsity of their statements and did so with reckless disregard.

The NRO ruling is equally (and equally justly) brutal towards the defendant.

What’s really funny is to see the various pro-dirty-energy trolls try to whistle in the dark on this. One of them that was trolling the Climate Science Watch blog even tried to claim that the original data had somehow gone missing and that Professor Mann would somehow regret the discovery phase of the trial, a claim that had noted biological anthropologist and science advocate Greg Laden figuratively rolling in the figurative aisles:

It will be very interesting to see what discovery produces. This may be the last stand of certain denialists and the last we see of their nefarious efforts. Between the climate becoming so much more obviously affected by the seemingly unchecked release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere an blunders like Heartland’s Unibomber billboard campaign, the denialists have pretty much lost all their credibility, but this may put the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Meanwhile, another commenter debunked the “missing data” and other denialist nonsense pretty neatly, providing links to back it all up.

Once again, the work of Michael Mann — work the dirty-energy-backed denialists have spent fifteen years attacking and smearing — will be validated, this time in a court of law.