Court Refuses to Dismiss Climate Kids’ Lawsuit Against Federal Government

By Ayana Byrd Mar 09, 2018

As the student-led fight for gun control continues to gain momentum, another group of young people is also making headway in a battle for social change. The "climate kids" just won a legal victory against the Trump administration, which they are putting on trial for its acts against the environment.

On Wednesday (March 7), an appellate court denied the administration’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the 21 youth and young adult plaintiffs. As The Washington Times reported yesterday (March 8), “A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the government’s request for an order directing a lower court to dismiss the case.” The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judge Sidney Thomas, wrote that the motion to halt the case “is entirely premature.”

The lawsuit, Juliana et al. v United States et al., was brought by a group of kids who are suing the federal government for denying their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by ignoring and exacerbating climate change—particularly through actions that allow and promote fossil fuel emissions. At the time of the filing, the plaintiffs were 9- to 20-years-old and were assisted by former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, whose granddaughter is one of the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was originally brought against the Obama administration in November 2015*, but in February 2017, the filing was changed to make President Donald Trump the defendant.

“We’re looking forward to putting the federal government on trial on climate science and its dangerous fossil fuel policies,” Julia Olson, the lead attorney for the young plaintiffs and chief counsel of Our Children’s Trust, told The Washington Post.

The case will be heard before a federal court in Oregon, where it was originally filed. It is expected to begin later this year.

*Article was updated to reflect the correct filing date for the lawsuit.