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Groundbreaking Youth Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Can Proceed
A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, preserving the trial start date of Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.
The judge largely rejected the government's arguments but granted the administration's motion to dismiss President Donald Trump as a defendant.
The judge said the students can get what they want by suing officials below the president, but she left the door open for Trump to be reinstated as a defendant in the case, if necessary.
Lawyers for the teens had argued the president shouldn't be excused for failing in his official capacity to protect the environment from rising global temperatures while subsidizing fossil fuel-dependent industries.
The groundbreaking lawsuit targets the government for creating policies that encouraged climate change, and for violating the country's youngest citizens their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failing to protect essential public trust resources.
On Friday, government attorneys filed a third writ of mandamus petition, a rarely used legal maneuver, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay district court proceedings, according to Our Children's Trust, the non-profit group supporting the youth plaintiffs. Judges with the Ninth Circuit denied the first two petitions, saying the petitions were not justified.
"To suggest that our government suffers harm greater than its citizens by having to participate in a trial when its youngest citizens bring legitimate claims of constitutional harm before our Article III courts flies in the face of democratic principles," Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children's Trust, said in a press release Friday. "We are going to trial on October 29th."
The Department of Justice also plans to file a second writ of mandamus petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 17, the press release said. In July, the high court ruled that the administration's motion to dismiss the case was "premature."
As the scheduled trial date approaches, Our Children's Trust has organized rallies across the country on Oct. 28-29 to rally support for the plaintiffs.
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Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust
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