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Thousands Urge Ninth Circuit to Allow Juliana v. United States to Go to Trial Youth Plaintiffs’ Climate Lawsuit Supported by 15 Amicus Briefs

Mar 1, 2019
Press Release

Thousands Urge Ninth Circuit to Allow Juliana v. United States to Go to Trial Youth Plaintiffs’ Climate Lawsuit Supported by 15 Amicus Briefs

Today, powerful voices of support for the Juliana v. United States youth plaintiffs and their landmark constitutional climate lawsuit filed amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In all, 15 amicus briefs, filed on behalf of a diverse set of supportive communities, including members of U.S. Congress, legal scholars, religious and women’s groups, businesses, historians, medical doctors, international lawyers, environmentalists, and more than 30,000 youth under the age of 25, displayed legal support for Juliana v. United States to proceed to trial.

The case, which was supposed to begin trial on October 29, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon, is now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court, in a 2-1 decision, granted the Trump administration’s petition for permission to bring an early (interlocutory) appeal in the case. Chief Judge Sidney Thomas and Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon decided in favor of the petition, while Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland dissented.

In January, the three-judge panel granted plaintiffs’ request to expedite the briefing schedule in Juliana, which put the appeal on a fast-track. The Court will hear oral arguments on the interlocutory appeal during the week of June 3 in Portland, Oregon.

Jamie Margolin, 17-year-old founder of Zero Hour and plaintiff in the Washington state climate lawsuit Aji P. v. State of Washington, supported by Our Children’s Trust, said:

“The Trump administration is doing everything it can to stop Juliana v. United States from going to trial. The youth cannot let that happen. We are filing the Young People’s brief to show that thousands of youth across America not only feel the urgency of climate action, but also understand that the youth climate lawsuit must proceed to secure a livable future.”

Congressman Peter DeFazio, said:

“I’m proud to work with Our Children’s Trust and be part of the fight for a cleaner, safer future. In the face of a President and Republican-led Senate who blatantly ignore and discount the existential threat posed by climate change, Our Children’s Trust is working to bring our nation one step closer to achieving a legal foundation and requirement to solve this crisis. I pledge to continue to do my part in Congress by pushing for bold, transformative action that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and protect our planet for future generations.”

Reverend Peter Sawtell, executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries, said:

“In my work with church leaders, I’ve often heard the question, “what kind of world do we want to leave to our children and grandchildren?” That’s the wrong question. We need to ask, “what kind of world do our children and grandchildren have a right to demand from us?Eco-Justice Ministries stands with the Juliana plaintiffs in calling on the courts to acknowledge the right of future generations to a livable climate.”

A public health amicus brief, filed by Wendy Jacobs, Director of the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School, on behalf of 78 individual doctors and dozens of organizations, states:

“Children are especially vulnerable to climate-related health effects because of their developing bodies; higher exposure to air, food, and water per unit body weight; unique behavior patterns; and dependence on caregivers. GHG emissions cause harmful physical and psychological impacts via extreme weather events, increased heat stress, decreased air quality, altered disease patterns and increased climate-sensitive infections, and food, water and nutrient insecurity in vulnerable regions of the United impacts will cost the United States trillions of dollars per year by the end of the century. These current and future adverse public health impacts and costs can be significantly mitigated if the federal government acts promptly to reduce GHG emissions. For these reasons, amici request that the Court grant Plaintiffs’ request for a remand to the district court for trial.”

Miko Vergun, 17-year-old Juliana plaintiff from Beaverton, Oregon, said:

“I’m part of an amazing group of plaintiffs who won’t put up with adults jeopardizing our futures any longer. I am so hyped to see how many other young people feel empowered to support us in this amicus brief and push for change for our futures and future generations. The amount of young people, in the United States and around the world, who added their names to support this brief is a representation of all the youth who know that their futures and their planet are at stake.”

Juliana v. United States is not about the government’s failure to act on climate. Instead, these young plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, assert that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, is depriving them of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources. The case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, and all seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.