The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Judge Denies 18 Republican Attorneys’ General Request to Intervene inConstitutional Climate Case Juliana v. United States

EUGENE, Oregon

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken denied 18 Republican attorneys’ general request to intervene as defendants in the children’s constitutional climate case, Juliana v. United States. She indicated that when her ruling comes down on the plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend, the states could attempt to refile their motion, suggesting a ruling may be imminent and the case is likely to move forward.

The Julianacase also featured prominently in a groundbreaking decision issued by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court on Monday that reaffirmed the precedent established by Judge Ann Aiken in Juliana that there is a constitutional right to a “life-sustaining climate system.” The Hawai‘i Supreme Court affirmed the State Public Utilities Commission’s decision to reject a power purchase agreement between a bioenergy project and the Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, which would have resulted in millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, thereby exacerbating Hawai`i’s “climate emergency.”

In a concurring opinion, Associate Justice M. Wilson cited Juliana v. United States, as well as an article by Our Children’s Trust Senior Litigation Attorney Andrea Rodgers, in reasoning that “the right to a life-sustaining climate system is also included in the due process right to ‘life, liberty, [and] property’ enumerated in Article I, section 5 and the public trust doctrine embodied in Article XI, section 1’s mandate that the State of Hawai`i ‘conserve and protect Hawai’i’s… natural resources’ ‘[f]or the benefit of present and future generations[s].’”

Justice Wilson recognized that “current scientific consensus, as opposed to political consensus in the Paris Agreement regarding an acceptable increase in global average temperature, suggests that mitigation strategies must be consistent with achieving global atmospheric CO2 concentrations below 350 parts per million (‘ppm’) by 2100.”

“These decisions - both tied to the Juliana v. U.S. case brought by 21 young people over seven years ago, suggest a significant shift in U.S. courts’ views on human rights and climate litigation,” said Julia Olson, Chief Legal Counsel with Our Children’s Trust. “As Justice Wilson said, ‘climate change is a human rights issue at its core’ and these judicial decisions are a message to our world’s children that the authority first established in Juliana is growing, and more and more judges are stepping up to protect children’s fundamental human rights. The tide is finally turning, and not a moment too soon.”

The young plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States now await the ruling from Judge Aiken on the motion to amend their complaint, where a favorable ruling would put them back on the path to trial. For over seven years, the U.S. Department of Justice has employed extreme legal tactics, including filing six unsuccessful Writs of Mandamus, in an attempt to further delay the case from proceeding to trial where evidence of the government’s actions causing the climate crisis, and violating the constitutional rights of the young plaintiffs, would be heard in open court.

In addition to Juliana v. United States, Our Children’s Trust also represents and/or supports young people in global and U.S. state climate litigation, including Layla H. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Natalie R. v. State of Utah, Navahine F. v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, and Held v. State of Montana, the latter of which will become the first ever constitutional climate trial, and first ever children’s climate trial, in U.S. history when trial proceedings begin on June 12, 2023.

Our Children's Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a "public trust" resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm.