Exxon Mobil asked the state's highest court Tuesday to block an order that the company hand over documents related to a state investigation into whether it misled the public about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
Justin Anderson, a lawyer representing Exxon Mobil, argued before the Supreme Judicial Court that Massachusetts lacks jurisdiction because the Irving, Texas-based oil and gas giant does not have a corporate presence in the state.
In January, a lower court judge ruled in favor of Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who contends she has clear authority to investigate whether Exxon Mobil concealed information it knew about climate change from consumers and investors.
In court Tuesday, Anderson said Healey cannot simply target groups that take a position on climate change that she does not agree with, "and therefore issue subpoenas to individuals and entities that have no contact with the state so they can be dragged to Massachusetts and answer to her because of her disagreement."
While Exxon Mobil doesn't have a corporate office in Massachusetts, the company's products are sold through distributors and retailers, the state noted. The company's marketing and advertising reaches all the state's residents, state lawyers said.
"The attorney general asks you to look at the facts of this matter and determine that Exxon has deliberately, and organizationally, and consistently done business in Massachusetts," assistant Attorney General Richard Johnston told the justices.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, has been conducting a similar probe into whether Exxon Mobil misled consumers or investors about climate change.
The company has sued Healey and Schneiderman in federal court, calling their investigation politically motivated.