News & Insights

Kids’ Climate Change Suit Temporarily Delayed In Ninth Circuit

The trial in a climate change lawsuit brought by 21 youths has been stayed after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the government’s request that it consider halting the case.  Juliana v. United States, No. 18-73014 (November 8, 2018), was filed in 2015 and contends the federal government pursued energy policies that caused climate change even though it has known for more than fifty years that carbon emissions destabilize the climate, and that the failure to protect future generations from the effects of climate change violated their generations’ constitutional right to live in a “climate system capable of sustaining human life.”

The trial had been set to begin on October 29, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon, but was delayed after the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to intervene and enter a stay. On November 2, the Supreme Court refused and advised the government to return to the Ninth Circuit, which it did on November 5. The Justice Department petitioned the Ninth Circuit to review the district court’s decision allowing the case to proceed to trial.

On November 8, 2018, the Ninth Circuit gave the youths’ lawyers 15 days to respond to the government’s petition. United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken, who previously authored an extensive opinion laying the foundation for the groundbreaking trial, indicated she will promptly set a new trial date once the appeals court lifts its temporary stay.  The case could have a significant impact, since it challenges the government’s fossil-fuel policy and calls for the courts to oversee a phenomenon that spans the globe.