Climate change has the potential to wreak havoc in the future by causing rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and much more. In 2015, a group of young climate change activists recognized that climate change stands to most profoundly impact young people — and filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing it of contributing to climate change. The Trump administration challenged it, but SCOTUS' new order on the climate change lawsuit found that kids can indeed continue to pursue the matter.
According to Mother Jones, the Supreme Court issued an order related to the lawsuit on Monday. As the outlet reported, the Trump administration had asked for a stay in the case, which would have have halted further legal proceedings. However, the court found that the stay request was "premature" and it was resultantly "denied without prejudice." The order also characterized the claims made by the defendants in the case (youth climate change activists) as "striking."
As Mother Jones explained, the lawsuit was originally filed in 2015, under the Obama administration. It was spearheaded by Julia Olson, a lawyer, who helped organize young climate activities to file the lawsuit. The lawsuit case is known as Juliana v. U.S. and all of its 21 plaintiffs are under the age of 22. According to the Global Green Grants fund, the lawsuit accuses the federal government of taking "affirmative actions" to contribute to climate change, threatening the future of current American youth.
As a press release from Our Children's Trust, one of the two nonprofit organizations supporting the lawsuit, put it:
Juliana v. United States is not about the government’s failure to act on climate. Instead, [the plaintiffs] ... assert that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, is depriving them of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources ...
As Mother Jones noted, the Trump administration had wanted a stay issued for the lawsuit because it argued that preparation for the trial would be unreasonably burdensome. SCOTUS, along with a lower court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, disagreed, meaning that the case will now proceed to trial. Currently, the case's trial date is scheduled for October 29 at the U.S. District Court in Oregon. However, it is possible that the federal government could again seek to have the lawsuit stopped. As Phil Gregory, a co-counsel for the plaintiffs, told Mother Jones, "The federal government is scared to put climate science before a federal court." Gregory noted that he expects the government to again seek to halt the case.
In Our Children's Trust's aforementioned press release, some of the lawsuit's young plaintiffs shared their excitement regarding SCOTUS' latest order. A 21-year-old named Jacob expressed hope that the case could result in positive changes for the country.
I am so grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized the importance of this trial and allowed our case to proceed. The scientific evidence linking the U.S. government's actions and policies to climate change impacts like wildfire and droughts that harm us youth must be presented before our country's justice system in its entirety to ensure that our rights may be protected.
Overall, the plaintiffs in the case, as well as many climate change activists, are likely eagerly anticipating moving forward with the trial. Time will soon tell if the climate change lawsuit has any long term ramifications for the future of the United States — a future which will be led by today's young people.