Youth Fight Back Against Trump's Attempt to Derail Climate Trial
Attorneys representing 21 youth in the Juliana v. United States climate lawsuit have filed opposition briefs to Trump administration and fossil fuel industry defendants' motions that sought again to derail the case from trial. In their filings, the youths' attorneys argue that "any delay in resolving the merits of this case irreversibly prejudices the youth plaintiffs in securing and protecting their fundamental constitutional rights."
The attorneys filed three responses Monday. The first response was to the U.S. government's request that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken allow the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the opportunity to review her Nov. 10, 2016 order denying motions to dismiss before the trial even takes place.
From the youth's brief:
"Federal Defendants' argument that 'no relief could be obtained against the President,' ... is substantially similar to one flatly rejected by the Ninth Circuit as 'contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy' in Washington v. Trump, in which the current president argued that he had 'unreviewable authority' with respect to immigration policy 'even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.'"
The second filing responded to fossil fuel defendants' similar motion for an early appeal, which complained that "complex scientific debate ... swirls around the issues raised by the plaintiffs' lawsuit." The third filing was in response to both the Trump administration and the fossil fuel defendant's attempts to put the trial on hold, in the event Judge Aiken grants their requests and the Ninth Circuit agrees to step in.
The fossil fuel defendants, members of trade associations American Petroleum Institute (formerly directed by now Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and National Association of Manufacturers, are represented by Sidley Austin, a law firm "whose diverse client base includes companies that develop, produce, transport, process and market energy." In 2016 alone, Sidley received $1.928 billion in revenue.
Per federal rules of procedure, Judge Aiken, informed by Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin's recommendation, holds the power to decide whether the Ninth Circuit has an opportunity to grant the defendants' requests for an interlocutory appeal of her November decision.
"The Trump administration and the fossil fuel interests have acknowledged our lawsuit is a threat to their profit-seeking motives," Tia Hatton, 20, youth plaintiff from Eugene, Oregon, said.
"Their move to appeal Judge Aiken's historic decision to hear our case is nothing more than an extension of their personal interests and preposterous climate denial. These interests render their moronic dismissal of the merit of the constitutional rights that my co-plaintiffs and I, as well as future generations have to a stable climate system."
Jacob Lebel, 20, youth plaintiff from Roseburg, Oregon, agreed. "It's laughable and darkly ironic to hear our government argue that it will be irreparably harmed by our request that it produce and preserve documents that deal with climate change," he said.
"What about the irreparable harms that President Trump's administration is inflicting upon us youth with its reckless promotion of the fossil fuel industry and attacks on climate science?"
On Friday, attorneys representing the youth served legal requests for documents to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of Defense and U.S. Dept. of State, just a few of the agency defendants in the case. The requests are a timely part of the discovery process, aimed at getting to trial by fall as Judge Coffin has requested.
Last month, attorneys representing the youth served requests for production of documents to the U.S. government and the American Petroleum Institute asking both defendants to turn over any of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's pseudonym emails in their custody (emails sent from "email@example.com") by April 16.
"The Trump administration appears to labor under the mistaken belief that its decisions are beyond the jurisdiction of constitutional review," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "As we've already seen, when President Trump puts travel bans in place that violate constitutional rights, courts can and will block those actions. When he takes alarming actions that deny our youth plaintiffs their fundamental rights to a safe climate, courts can and will block those actions as well."
A telephonic case management conference, with Judge Coffin and attorneys representing all the parties, is set for April 7 at 10 a.m. PST.
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As protests are taking place across our nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, we want to acknowledge the importance of this protest and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the years, we've aimed to be sensitive and prioritize stories that highlight the intersection between racial and environmental injustice. From our years of covering the environment, we know that too often marginalized communities around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental crises.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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