Quantcast

Supreme Court Puts Historic Youth Climate Lawsuit on Hold

Climate
Some of the young plaintiffs in landmark climate case Juliana v. United States. Our Children's Trust

The U.S. Supreme Court put a landmark climate case on pause Friday while it considers a last-ditch attempt by the Trump administration to stop it from proceeding to trial, Climate Liability News reported.


Juliana v. United States is a historic lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the U.S. government, arguing that it has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by enacting policies that encourage climate change. It was filed during the Obama administration and has so far survived attempts by both administrations to toss it. But that was before Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration is asking for something called a "writ of mandamus," an unusual type of appeal in which a higher court overturns a lower court before a verdict has even been reached. The administration had asked both the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop Juliana v. United States using this mechanism various times. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused twice, and the Supreme Court already refused once in July.

Julia Olsen, co-lead counsel for the case and executive director of Our Children's Trust, the non-profit supporting the young plaintiffs, remained confident the Supreme Court would ultimately make the same decision it did this summer.

"We are confident once Chief Justice Roberts and the full Court receive the youth plaintiffs' response to defendants' mischaracterization of their case, the trial will proceed," Olsen said via Our Children's Trust's Twitter feed. "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. This case is about already recognized fundamental rights and children's rights of equal protection under the law."

Of course, between July and now, Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired and Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to take his place. Kennedy was a swing voter on environmental issues who sometimes ruled in favor of increased regulations despite his conservative credentials. Kavanaugh's record is much more consistently anti-regulation when it comes to environmental cases. He also lied during the confirmation hearings, presenting his past rulings as more environmentally friendly than others familiar with the cases said they were. After Kennedy announced his retirement, Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus worried a more conservative court might make it harder for private citizens to sue the government over climate change.

The Supreme Court has now asked the young plaintiffs to respond to the government's appeal by Wednesday, Oct. 24. The trial was originally set to begin in Eugene, Oregon on Oct. 29.


EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
Read More
Charging EVs in Stockholm: But where does a dead battery go? Ranjithsiji / Wikimedia Commons

By Kieran Cooke

Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.

Read More
Sponsored
U.S. Secretary of the Treasure Steven Mnuchin arrives for a welcome dinner at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 22, 2020 during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP via Getty Images

Finance ministers from the 20 largest economies agreed to add a scant mention of the climate crisis in its final communiqué in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but they stopped short of calling it a major economic risk, as Reuters reported. It was the first time the G20 has mentioned the climate crisis in its final communiqué since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

Read More
Aerial view of Parque da Cachoeira, which suffered the January 2019 dam collapse, in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil — one of the country's worst industrial accidents that left 270 people dead. Millions of tons of toxic mining waste engulfed houses, farms and waterways, devastating the mineral-rich region. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP / Getty Images

By Christopher Sergeant, Julian D. Olden

Scars from large mining operations are permanently etched across the landscapes of the world. The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

Read More
Participants of the climate demonstration Fridays for Future walk through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020. Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.

Read More