The Justice Department is trying to block young people from suing over climate change
Climate change is impacting everything from the survival of life on Earth to our mental health. But even as the dangers of climate change grow, the government continues to do little to solve the problem. In fact, the Justice Department is attempting to block a climate change lawsuit filed by a group of 10- to 21-year-olds—a little more than one week before it’s scheduled to go to trial.
According to NBC News, the group of young activists filed the suit in 2015, and it is currently scheduled to be tried over a 50-day period in a federal district court in Oregon starting on October 29th. In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the federal government has advanced climate change by encouraging the use of fossil fuels over the course of five decades. By doing this, the government has violated their right to a “climate system capable of sustaining human life.” The lawsuit seeks massive reductions in the use of fossil fuels.
In court documents filed on October 18th, the Justice Department requested that the Supreme Court put an end to what it described as a “profoundly misguided suit.” In its statement, the government department argued that the 21 plaintiffs could “make no credible claim of imminent, irreparable harm” as a result of climate change.
"Their alleged injuries stem from the effects of CO2 emissions from every source in the world over decades," the Justice Department wrote, arguing that any emissions caused by the government would be negligible.
NBC notes that both the Trump and Obama administrations have tried to stop this lawsuit, with the most recent attempt occurring in July. Although SCOTUS denied the Justice Department’s request at the time, the court did acknowledge the “striking” breadth of the plaintiff’s claims and noted that it wasn’t sure if the issue should be tried in court.
But indigenous climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, one of the teens who filed the suit, is defending it.
"I think addressing our climate crisis is one of the most important things we have to do. Politicians—Democrats, Republicans—aren't doing the best job of representing our future," he told NBC.
SCOTUSBlog points out that the Justice Department’s latest request was signed by Solicitor General Noel Francisco and will be sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
We stand with the young people attempting to take our government to task for its treatment of planet Earth, and we’ll be monitoring this case as it develops.