Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

kids

The Minnesota March for Science was held in St. Paul in April of 2017. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/Flickr/cc)

'Disgraceful and Enraging': Supreme Court Halts Youth Climate Case After Last-Ditch Trump Effort to Kill Suit

"A newly configured Supreme Court seems poised to close the courthouse doors. But the tide of #ClimateAction cannot be stopped."

Jessica Corbett

In a move author and activist Naomi Klein denounced as "disgraceful and enraging," the U.S. Supreme Court has halted a lawsuit brought by 21 American children and young adults that aims to hold the federal government accountable for its ongoing failure to adequately curb greenhouse gas emissions to battle the global climate crisis.

The decision came in response to a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to kill the "potentially landmark" case ahead of the trial slated to begin in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon on Oct. 29.

The case has been tied up in the legal system for three years. Just this week, District Court Judge Ann Aiken reaffirmed that the youth plaintiffs can credibly claim that the government has violated their due process rights. The Supreme Court, however, stayed discovery and the trial in an order (pdf) issued Friday, demanding a response from the plaintiffs' legal counsel by Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Gerrard, director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia, called the move "highly unusual" and "reminiscent of their stay of the Clean Power Plan."

Farron Cousins, a radio host and executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, tied the development to the upcoming midterms, tweeting:

While the high court's one-page order provoked public outrage, Julia Olson of Our Children's Trust, co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, remained optimistic and said the team plans to file their reply on Monday.

"We are confident once Chief [John] Justice Roberts and the full court receive the youth plaintiffs' response to defendants' mischaracterization of their case, the trial will proceed," she said. "As the Supreme Court has recognized in innumerable cases, review of constitutional questions is better done on a full record where the evidence is presented and weighed by the trier of fact. This case is about already recognized fundamental rights and children's rights of equal protection under the law."

As E&E News noted, "Roberts' action came hours after Jeffrey Wood, a top political appointee at the Department of Justice, said there is no such right. Speaking at a law conference in San Diego, Wood said the right to a safe climate that the plaintiffs demand 'simply does not exist,' adding that the government is still preparing for trial."

Several observers pointed out that the Supreme Court had previously allowed the case to proceed, back before the contentious new Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced now-retired Anthony Kennedy. Environmental attorney Jeffrey Gracer remarked: "A newly configured Supreme Court seems poised to close the courthouse doors. But the tide of #ClimateAction cannot be stopped."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Egregious': PFAS Firefighting Foam Spills at Notorious Red Hill Naval Facility in Hawaii

While officials said there is no evidence that drinking water was contaminated, the incident generated further local frustration with the closing fuel storage complex.

Jessica Corbett ·


House Passes Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers Despite Opposition of 207 Republicans

"Now let's get it through the Senate," said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who led the fight to add seven days of paid sick leave to a White House-brokered contract that failed to provide any to railroad workers.

Kenny Stancil ·


Evidence Grows of Left-Wing Twitter Purge Directed by Musk

"Elon Musk appears to have outsourced decisions about who to ban from Twitter to the platform's right-wing extremists," said The Intercept's Micah Lee.

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Groups Rip NYC Mayor Over Forced Hospitalizations for Mental Illness

"Forcing people into treatment is a failed strategy," said the head of the NYCLU. "With no real plan for housing, services, or supports, the administration is choosing handcuffs and coercion."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Finally, Some Justice': Fracking Company to Pay Millions for Poisoning Town's Water

"This case proves once and for all that drilling and fracking contaminated our drinking water," said one Dimock, Pennsylvania resident.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo