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Will the Juliana Plaintiffs Suing the Government Over Climate Change Ever Get a Trial?

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Our Children’s Trust holds a rally in support of the Juliana v. U.S. lawsuit outside the U.S. Supreme Court on October 29th, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing the 21 young plaintiffs suing the United States government over climate change argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to allow the case, Juliana v. United States, to go to trial. The plaintiffs accuse the government of violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property by perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, thereby contributing to climate change.

The three judges in Portland, Oregon, heard from Julia Olson, representing the plaintiffs, and Jeffrey Clark, an assistant attorney general representing the Trump administration. The hearing, which was originally supposed to happen last October, is the result of several attempts by the federal government, under both the Obama and Trump administrations, to convince courts to scrap the case.

Olson argued on Tuesday that the government is “perpetrat[ing] a constitutional violation and put[ting] children in harm’s way, with deliberate indifference to that harm,” because, by the government‘s own admission, the climate crisis represents “a monumental threat to young people.” Ultimately, these youth plaintiffs are asking judges to rule that the government needs to correct that wrongdoing by creating a national plan to transition away from fossil fuels.

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