The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary pause on the district court proceedings in Juliana v. United States, in which 21 young adults are suing the federal government for violating their rights to a safe and livable climate. Circuit judges Alfred Goodwin, Alex Kozinski and Marsha Berzon ordered the temporary stay on Tuesday.
The case is expected to go to trial Feb. 5 in Eugene.
Philip Duclos, who grew up in Yoncalla and is working on the case in Eugene this summer, said he’s encouraged the Ninth Circuit is taking the climate case seriously in considering the government’s petition for a writ of mandamus, which allows higher courts to review and potentially overturn decisions made by lower courts.
“That consideration shows a broad recognition of the climate crisis that the government has precipitated in the past hundred years and the need to protect future generations from prior and present generations’ disregard for science and the atmospheric trust,” Duclos said.
On June 9, the Trump Administration filed a writ of mandamus, a petition for a rare review of U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken’s Nov. 10, 2016 decision denying its motion to dismiss the case. The administration also asked for a stay of proceedings in the district court until the petition was resolved. Tuesday’s order does not address the writ of mandamus or other pending motions, but it puts the case on pause temporarily.
“It’s disappointing to have any potential delay when we’re in a danger zone on climate, but there will be no delay on our end,” said Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust. “We will continue to prepare for trial. We remain confident that we will be heading to trial and that the temporary stay will be lifted.”
One of the plaintiffs, Alex Loznak of Douglas County, said he’s always known the case would get to a higher court sooner or later, so he’s not afraid of going to the Ninth Circuit.
“The same arguments that got us to the point we are at will prevail at the court of appeals,” Loznak said. “It’s a very strong case. While it would be better to have all of the facts in front of them, if the Ninth Circuit takes up the early writ of mandamus, the right thing to do would be to deny the stay and let us continue to prepare for trial.”