Youth Climate Lawsuit

Supporters gather outside of the federal courthouse in Eugene before a case management hearing in the landmark Juliana v. United States climate change lawsuit. The nonprofit Our Children’s Trust is representing 21 youths between the ages of 9 and 21 who are suing the United States government over their right to a stable climate system.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday granted a stay in the climate trial, Juliana v. United States, pending a response from the plaintiffs.

The Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to dismiss the case brought by 21 young plaintiffs Thursday.

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, Meg Ward with Our Children’s Trust said the plaintiff’s legal team is working on its response, which it will file Monday.

The Supreme Court order states a response is due by Oct. 24.

Julia Olson, one of the lawyers representing the young plaintiffs, said the prosecution is confident that once the court receives the response the trial will proceed.

“As the Supreme Court has recognized in innumerable cases, review of constitutional questions is better done on a full record where the evidence is presented and weighed by the trier of fact,” Olson said in a news release.

The lawsuit alleges the federal government has violated young people’s constitutional rights through policies that have caused a dangerous climate.

They have said their generation bears the brunt of climate change and that the government has an obligation to protect natural resources for present and future generations.

The young people say government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels was causing climate change and that policies on oil and gas deprive them of life, liberty and property. They also say the government has failed to protect natural resources as a “public trust” for future generations.

The lawsuit wants a court to order the government to stop permitting and authorizing fossil fuels, quickly phase out carbon dioxide emissions to a certain level by 2100 and develop a national climate recovery plan.

The Trump administration got a temporary reprieve on the case after also asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected the request in July.

“The latest attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the trial does not appear to be based on any new evidence or arguments. The only new element is an additional Supreme Court justice,” said Melissa Scanlan, a professor at Vermont Law School, who is not involved in the case.

Kavanaugh replaced the more moderate Anthony Kennedy.

Scanlan said the Trump administration is trying to avoid “what they’re expecting to be a 50-day trial focused on climate disruption.” The trial in Eugene was expected to wrap up in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Crime and Natural Resources Reporter

Saphara Harrell is the crime and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She previously worked at The World in Coos Bay. Follow her on Twitter @daisysaphara.

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