Monday, November 19, 2018

Breaking: Landmark youth climate case moves ahead as Supreme Court denies request for stay

The United States Supreme Court denied the Trump administration's request for a stay in Juliana v. United States.

Image Credit: Yale Climate Connections

The United States Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s request on Friday to halt the landmark youth climate suit. The case will now be allowed to proceed.

The suit, which was brought against the federal government by 21 youths who charge that the government has violated their constitutional rights by actively contributing to climate instability, was supposed to begin on October 29, but was put on a temporary hold while the Supreme Court responded to the Trump administration’s request for dismissal.

Plaintiffs for the case, who range in age from 11-22, accuse the government of continuing policies and practices of allowing the exploitation of fossil fuels,” despite knowing that doing so “would destabilize the climate system on which present and future generations of our nation depend for their well-being and survival.” They request that the government take action to fight climate change.

“The youth of our nation won an important decision today from the Supreme Court that shows even the most powerful government in the world must follow the rules and process of litigation in our democracy,” said Julia Olson in a statement, executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs.

A lower court rules earlier this year that the case could go to trial. In July, after a previous attempt by the Trump administration to halt the case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the case could proceed. However recent changes to the Supreme Court, namely the appointment of conservative Justice Kavanaugh, have put the case in jeopardy.

The decision on Friday to allow the case to proceed was a huge victory for both the plaintiffs and environmentalists across the nation. It is important to note however that both Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch would have granted the application for a stay now had they been able to.

The federal government insists that the case has no basis in the law, and both sides agree that the case is not a question of science.

“This is not an environmental case, it’s a civil rights case,” wrote Our Children’s Trust.

“In our view, the Oregon lawsuit is an unconstitutional attempt to use a single court to control the entire nation’s energy and climate policy. It is a matter of separation of powers and preserving the opportunity in our system of government for those policies to be decided by the elected branches, not the courts.” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood, who is helping represent the US government in the suit.

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