Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

US government can be sued by children over climate change: court

US government can be sued by children over climate change: court

The plaintiffs just won a victory: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case can indeed move towards a trial, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump administration can't skirt litigating a case where almost two dozen kids accuse the government of failing to ensure that future generations will inherit a clean planet able to support human life, the Ninth Circuit ruled. 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.

The lawsuit filed by 21 young people claims the government is endangering their future. "Thus far, they have not been disputing climate science, or that it's human-caused, but they haven't yet taken a position on certain aspects of climate change and what's projected", she said.

The Department of Justice is expected to ask the Supreme Court to drop the case. The three-judge panel wrote that the defendants' arguments "do not satisfy" the criteria to stopping such a lawsuit early.

Speaking to the government claim that the case would threaten the separation of powers, the law professors said the preemptive appeal "misapprehends the role of federal courts", by seeking to squelch courts' fundamental role in evaluating whether a government action impedes the liberty of its citizens.

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"Litigation burdens are part of our legal system, and the defendants still have the usual remedies before the district court for nonmeritorious litigation", Thomas wrote. Thomas also found that though the case raises issues of first impression, it should be allowed to run its course before the appellate court addresses the merits.

"There is enduring value in the orderly administration of litigation by the trial courts, free of needless appellate interference". The Trump Administration had petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus, a rarely used legal maneuver that would have prevented the case from going forward.

"The panel held that mandamus relief was inappropriate where the district court has not issued a single discovery order, nor had the plaintiffs field a single motion seeking to compel discovery", the judges ruled.

Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children's Trust, one of the organizations supporting the kids, said the Ninth Circuit's move signaled a "green light for trial".

"We're looking forward to putting the federal government on trial on climate science and its unsafe fossil fuel policies", said Julia Olson, the lead attorney for the young plaintiffs and chief counsel of Our Children's Trust.

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