EUGENE — Maya Green gets it.

The 6-year-old girl, missing her two front teeth and wearing a colored sign on her back depicting the Earth along with the words “I hope you get better soon,” stood among hundreds of people who gathered Monday outside the U.S. Courthouse in Eugene for a rally in support of a youth-led climate lawsuit against the government.

“The Earth is really sick,” Maya said, in explaining her sign. “If my mom was sick, I’d say ‘Get better soon, mom.’ This is the same.”

Maya was among dozens of schoolchildren who attended the rally, held on the day that a landmark constitutional climate case had been scheduled to go to trial at the federal courthouse. The proceedings, however, have been suspended since Oct. 19, when U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ordered a stay at the request of the government.

It’s not known when the Supreme Court will decide whether the case can go forward in the near future, or if proceedings should remain suspended while justices review the matter.

Plaintiffs in the case include 21 young Americans between the ages of 11 and 22. They first filed suit against the government in 2015, blaming it for causing climate change.

“This is no ordinary lawsuit,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Phil Gregory, said to loud applause at Monday’s rally.

About 70 similar events were scheduled to be held in more than 40 other states.

Some attendees of the Eugene rally said it reminded them of protest actions that have been somewhat commonplace in the city over the years. But others — including Maya’s mother, Sarah Pishioneri — said there’s something different about supporting plaintiffs in the climate case, and it has to do with the fact that children are the ones suing the government.

“Part one (of why she pulled Maya from school to attend Monday’s rally) is that I hope it’s inspiring for her to see that her peers have power, particularly when they work together,” Pishioneri said. “Part two is that (climate change) is the most important issue of my lifetime, and definitely of her lifetime.”

Speakers at Monday’s event included several of the plaintiffs, their attorneys, local religious leaders and Native American tribal elders, as well as current and former government officials.

“These young people are our pride,” former Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy told the crowd. “They dedicate their lives to saving the planet, and by doing so they’re saving us.”

Piercy mentioned the city’s 2014 passage of a climate-recovery ordinance that included some of the strongest greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in the nation.

Several of the youth plaintiffs in the climate case advocated in favor of the ordinance.

Now, the plaintiffs are seeking to change the way the nation conducts business.

They assert in the lawsuit that the government has long known about the dangers associated with the burning of fossil fuels but has ignored those risks while permitting and encouraging their use, which the plaintiffs allege has allowed human-generated, atmospheric carbon concentrations to escalate to unprecedented levels that have destabilized the climate system.

The lawsuit alleges constitutional rights violations. It seeks a court order directing the government to stop permitting, authorizing and subsidizing fossil fuel use in order to phase out carbon emissions, and to put in place a national plan that works to stabilize the climate.

Earlier this month, a United Nations panel of scientists warned that countries will need to take major action to cut carbon emissions in the coming years in order to avoid grave consequences related to global warming.

Attorneys with the Department of Justice said in a petition filed last week with the Supreme Court that the youth plaintiffs’ position in the case that’s now on hold “amounts to the astounding assertion that permitting or encouraging the combustion of fossil fuels violates the due-process clause of the Constitution and a single district court in a suit brought by a handful of plaintiffs may decree the end of the carbon-based features of the United States’ energy system, without regard to the statutory and regulatory framework Congress enacted to address such issues with broad public input.”

But while the government has repeatedly objected to using the court to set climate policy, it has — in a formal answer to the lawsuit filed in January 2017 — agreed with many of the plaintiffs’ scientific and factual allegations.

At Monday’s rally, a few of the plaintiffs spoke of how climate change has affected them and also urged their supporters to stay the course.

“I guess we’ll just have to be patient a little longer,” the youngest plaintiff, 11-year-old Florida resident Levi Draheim, said as he addressed the crowd.

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