“Climate Kids” Suit Set For Review

  The “climate kids” lawsuit originally filed 2015 will be reviewed in federal court in Portland on Tuesday, June 3 as to whether the case will proceed to trial. 21 young people are alleging the federal government’s inaction on climate change is depriving them of their right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” 

The suit, formally known as Juliana v. United States, argues that this deprivation by the federal government requires the judiciary to intervene. They are seeking an order to eight federal agencies mandating the preparation of a “national remedial plan,” laying out how to reduce and eventually stop the use of fossil fuels and other carbon emissions. The order would also require the agencies to maintain industry compliance with the plan. 

The case has been appealed by the government multiple times, and the review on Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments on whether the case should move forward to trial or not.  

Government lawyers call the suit “misguided,” arguing that a single federal judge does not have the authority to overturn the global system of emissions and fossil fuel use, and for that same reason they argue the plaintiffs have a “generalized grievance,” rather than harm that was directly caused by the federal government. 

“[The] theory that the judiciary is without power to assess the constitutionality of large and pervasive government policies and systems,” wrote the lawyers for the Juliana plaintiffs, “would have been the downfall of cases addressing desegregation, prison reform, interracial and same-sex marriage, and the rights of women to serve on juries and have access to contraception, among other rights.” 

Thousands of activists and others are expected to flood Portland this week for the hearing, in support of the “climate kids.” 

By Ian MacRonald