Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Children's Climate Change Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Proceeds

Outside the Ninth Circuit during arguments for Juliana v. United States Outside the Ninth Circuit during arguments for Juliana v. United States
Nellie Chapman | 09 March, 2018, 15:31

The young plaintiffs argued that government policies that hurt the environment violated the U.S. Constitution.

Summary: The Trump administration was unsuccessful at stopping an environmental lawsuit filed by mostly teenagers.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which handled the government appeal, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A group of constitutional scholars weighed in on the issue in an amicus brief filed this past week. "It will be the first time that climate science and the federal government's role in creating its dangers will go on trial in a USA court". The Ninth Circuit assures the Government that there are remedies available in the trial court and the Ninth Circuit if they are needed.

A three-judge panel on Wednesday rejected the government's request for an order directing a district court to dismiss the case. This is generally considered an extraordinary remedy, and the Ninth Circuit panel decided 3-0 that a halt was not justified in this case, and hard to justify in general. (One of the judges presiding at the hearing, Alex Kozinski, has since retired amid allegations of harassment; he was replaced randomly by Judge Michelle T. Friedland).

And while the scope of discovery sought by the kids may be daunting, the trial judge has not yet issued a single discovery order, making mandamus at this point "entirely premature", Thomas wrote. And the government can appeal any eventual ruling, just like other defendants.

Redwood City-based attorney Philip Gregory, who is part of the plaintiffs' legal team, said Wednesday morning that "it's clear that the panel saw through the federal government's ruse that our case was imposing a staggering discovery burden on this administration".

The government said that the policies in the lawsuit are matters for Congress and the President, and they added that the judge in Eugene, Oregon who had allowed the case to move forward in November 2016 had overstepped her bounds. "If appellate review could be invoked whenever a district court denied a motion to dismiss, we would be quickly overwhelmed with such requests, and the resolution of cases would be unnecessarily delayed".

"The Ninth Circuit just gave us the green light for trial".

Julia Olson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the group will seek a trial date for later this year, "where we will put the federal government's unsafe energy system and climate policies on trial".