JULIANA v. U.S. - CLIMATE LAWSUIT

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –

- U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

Youth filed their constitutional climate lawsuit, called Juliana v. U.S., against the U.S. government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2015. Earth Guardians is also an organizational plaintiff in the case.

Their complaint asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.

The fossil fuel industry initially intervened in the case as defendants, joining the U.S. government in trying to have the case dismissed. In April 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin recommended denial of both of motions to dismiss. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken upheld Judge Coffin's recommendation, with the issuance of an historic November 10, 2016 opinion and order denying the motions. When the defendants sought an interlocutory appeal of that order, Judge  Aiken denied their motions in June 2017.

In June 2017, Judge Coffin issued an order releasing the fossil fuel industry defendants from the case, and setting a trial date for February 5, 2018 before Judge Aiken at the U.S. District Court of Oregon in Eugene. 

In July 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals requested attorneys for youth plaintiffs submit a response to the government's petition for "writ of mandamus" and invited the District Court to respond as well. The District Court responded via letter and the youth plaintiffs filed their answer. Further, eight amicus briefs were filed with the Ninth Circuit in support of the youth plaintiffs. 

Pursuant to its order, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, made up of Chief Justice Sidney Thomas, and Circuit Justices Alex Kozinski and Marsha Barzon heard oral arguments on December 11, 2017. Watch a video recording of the oral arguments below. Youth plaintiffs, now age 10 to 21, and their attorneys look forward to the panel decision. Eric Grant, representing the Trump administration and the U.S. government, argued that the case be dismissed. Justice Kozinski subsequently resigned and was replaced on the panel by Circuit Justice Michelle Friedland.

Due to the Trump administration’s drastic tactics before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to silence the voices of youth and keep science out of the courtroom, the trial will not begin on February 5th, as originally scheduled. 

On March 7, 2018 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus. During a public case management conference on April 12, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin set October 29, 2018 as the trial date for Juliana v. United States.

On May 25, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin issued an order denying the Trump Administration’s motion for protective order and a stay of all discovery. 

On July 18, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken heard oral argument in the constitutional climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States. Judge Aiken considered the Trump administration’s latest procedural tactics to avoid trial: a motion for judgment on the pleadings (“MJP”) and a motion for summary judgment (“MSJ”). Supporters for the youth plaintiffs packed the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse courtroom in Eugene and three overflow rooms.

On July 20, 2018, in a per curiam opinion, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, and Circuit Judges Marsha Berzon and Michelle Friedland of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s second petition for writ of mandamus.

On July 30, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, the constitutional climate lawsuit filed against the federal government. The Court denied the Trump administration’s application for stay, preserving the U.S. District Court’s trial start date of October 29, 2018.  The Court also denied the government’s “premature” request to review the case before the district court hears all of the facts that support the youth’s claims at trial.


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*Click here for timeline of the Alec L. v. McCarthy lawsuit we filed in 2011.