A gaggle of children have a filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration because they say the administration is violating their constitutional rights by not fighting climate change. The Trump Administration is, however, fighting the suit.
Calling the lawsuit “radical” and an “anathema,” Jeffrey Bossert Clark, an assistant attorney general who represented BP after the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, argued for the US government that the case should be thrown out in part because it is a “direct attack on the separation of powers” among the three branches of the federal government.
“We don’t think there is a state-created danger here,” he added.
Also, they are children. Twenty-one of them to be exact. The suit was originally filed back in 2015, four years ago which is probably half of their lifetimes.
The climate kids allege their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property are being violated by a US government that is knowingly promoting the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, which cause dangerous levels of warming, raising sea levels and promoting droughts and storms.
They also say they have a right to a safe atmosphere, and that they are being discriminated against as young people who will bear outsize consequences of the climate emergency.
The lawsuit has been called a moonshot attempt to get the federal government to act on climate, and has been compared to Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated public schools. It’s “the biggest case on the planet,” University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood told CNN in 2016.
Biggest case? Sure why not. Other grownups agree: “It’s significant that in neither the (Dutch) nor the Juliana case have the government defendants contested the underlying science of climate change,” Gerrard said. “Instead their defenses are what is the proper role of the courts, as opposed to the legislative and administrative branches dealing with the issue. It’s also clear,” Gerrard added, “that governments around the world have almost uniformly failed to act adequately.”
Why would someone go to court in order to have a battle of scientific theories? Do these grownups think that judges are qualified to mediate scientific debates? Maybe they do since they support children dictating U.S. climate policy.
The attorney for the tots, Julia Olson, argued in court: “When our great-grandchildren look back on the 21st century they will see that government-sanctioned climate destruction was the constitutional issue of the century,” Olson said. “We must be a nation that applies the rule of law to harmful government conduct that threatens the lives of our children so that they can grow up safe and free and pursue their happiness.”
The judge questioned the children’s lawyer about whether he could order the government to create a plan to stop fossil fuel use and make the atmosphere safe for them.
“The issue here is whether this branch of government, embodied by the three of us today, has the ability to issue the relief that your clients seek,” he told Olson from the bench. “We don’t doubt that Congress or the President could give you the relief you seek without us.”
“I don’t think Congress or the President ever will without–” Olson said.
“Well, we may have the wrong Congress and the wrong President,” Hurwitz said. “… The real question for us is whether or not we get to intervene because of it.
You present compelling evidence that we have a real problem. You present compelling evidence that we have inaction. … It may even rise to the level of criminal neglect. The tough question for me, and I suppose for my colleagues, is do we get to act because of that.”
I hope the judge makes a decision soon, we only have 12 years left before it’s too late.
(Photo by Lev Fedoseyev\TASS via Getty Images)