August 29, 2018
On July 30, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the 21 youth plaintiffs in the constitutional climate change lawsuit filed against the federal government, Juliana v. United States, according to an August 3, 2018 Forbes report.
The plaintiffs allege that the United States government’s affirmative actions caused climate change, violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and failed to protect essential public trust resources.
In this latest step of a fascinating bit of constitutional law called Atmospheric Trust Litigation, the Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s application for stay, preserving the U.S. District Court’s trial start date of October 29, 2018. The Supreme Court also denied the government’s premature request to review the case before the district court hears all of the facts that support the youth’s claims at trial.
The Supreme Court’s decision follows the July 20th decision in favor of the youths from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which also denied the government’s highly unusual second petition for writ of mandamus.
Mandamus is a court order from a higher court to a government agency, which can also include a lower court, to follow the law by correcting its prior actions.
The fossil fuel industry initially intervened in the case as defendants, joining the U.S. government in trying to have the case dismissed early on. In April 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon recommended denial of both motions to dismiss.
In June 2017, Judge Coffin issued an order releasing the fossil fuel industry defendants from the case, which they realized was a no-win for their industry.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken upheld Judge Coffin’s recommendation, with the issuance of a historic November 10, 2016 opinion and order denying the motions. In her opinion Judge Aiken stated, “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
The coming weeks leading up to the start of the trial on October 29th will be filled with crucial and intensive trial preparation. Depositions of the plaintiffs and expert witnesses on both sides will be taken, additional rulings are expected from the District Court, and important evidence will be exchanged between the parties.
This suit is really the first time Global Warming is being fully heard in a High Court of the Land. It’s likely the case will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
What this means to you
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in favor of the 21 youth plaintiffs in the constitutional climate change lawsuit filed against the federal government, Juliana v. United States. The Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s application for stay, preserving the U.S. District Court’s trial start date of October 29, 2018. The suit is the first time global warming is being fully heard in a High Court.
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