Appeals court gives go-ahead to 'climate kids' suit

US government can be sued by children over climate change: court

A children's climate change lawsuit was allowed Wednesday by a federal appeals court that rejected the US government's bid to halt the lawsuit claiming that President Donald Trump and his administration are violating their constitutional rights by ignoring the harms caused by climate change. Six of the plaintiffs are from Eugene; 11 live in Oregon.

The 21 plaintiffs - mostly teenagers, according to Bloomberg - say the government, in backing a climate change-inducing energy system, has violated their rights to property, liberty, and life, and hasn't protected vital public trust resources. She said in a prepared statement that the plaintiffs "will put the federal government's unsafe energy system and climate policies on trial for infringing the constitutional rights of young people".

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon in November 2016 refused to dismiss the lawsuit, saying a quick dismissal without addressing the merits could sanction the government's alleged "knowing decision to poison the air".

Redwood City-based attorney Philip Gregory, who is part of the plaintiffs' legal team, said Wednesday morning that "it's clear that the panel saw through the federal government's ruse that our case was imposing a staggering discovery burden on this administration". President Barack Obama's administration had tried to dismiss the case in 2016, but they had failed.

Gregory, who left Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy last month and started his own firm, said that "given the urgency of the climate situation", the plaintiffs would ask the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken of the District of OR, for an early 2018 trial date.

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The government also claims what the kids want - a court order forcing the government to stop climate change - threatens the separation of powers between the courts and the executive branch of government.

The ruling echoed concerns the Ninth Circuit judges expressed over the government's mandamus bid during oral arguments in December.

"The panel concluded that the issues that the defendants raised on mandamus were better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation", the opinion states. "However, the district court needs to consider those issues further in the first instance".

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"We were really excited and relieved to have the decision so we can move forward and get a new trial date from the district court and get as quickly to trial as possible".


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