The Youth are Suing the Federal Government over Failure to act on Climate Change

On June 4th, the Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit heard arguments from Juliana v. United States on whether or not US citizens’ have a constitutional right to be protected from man-made climate change. The students are challenging the executive government’s inaction on climate change, and argue that the younger generations will suffer the most from the repercussions of climate change in the decades to come. The federal government is debating whether or not these children have the right to sue over climate change, advising the students to make change by going through legislators, not the courts.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken heard the case 2018 in Oregon and countered the Trump administration’s multiple attempts to delay or refute the case utilizing legal tactics such as motion of judgement on the pleading, (MJP), motion for summary judgment (MSJ), and petitions for writ of mandamus against the students fighting to hold the government accountable for man-made climate change. Judge Aiken issued two orders for appeal to move the case to the 9th Circuit Court, she exclaimed , “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 case began in 2015 when a coalition of 21 children and Our Children’s Trust organization filed a lawsuit against the US government through the U.S District Court in Oregon. The plaintiffs cite President Theodore Roosevelt in their brief, “If we of this generation destroy the resources from which our children would otherwise derive their livelihood, we reduce the capacity of our land to support a population, and so either degrade the standard of living or deprive the coming generations of their right to life on this continent.” These students have created a national movement around climate change and gained traction on major social media platforms via these hashtag #KidsvsGov which has been amended to #YouthvsGov.

This monumental case now waits the 9th Circuit Court Judges, Mary H. Murguia, Andrew D. Hurwitz, and Josephine L. Staton’s decision on whether or not Juliana vs. United States will continue on to the U.S District Court in Eugene. Since Trump has taken office he has rolled back environmental protections by withdrawing from the Paris Climate agreement, cutting funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and disregarding his administration’s report on climate change.


Media Resources: The New York Times 6/4/19; AP News 6/4/19; 60 Minutes 3/3/19; Our Children’s Trust

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