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. Other plaintiffs in the case include world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter, and Earth Guardians, as an organizational plaintiff.

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. On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin recommended the denial of their motions to dismiss, and U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken upheld Judge Coffin's recommendation, with the issuance of an historic November 10, 2016 opinion and order that denied the motions. When the defendants sought an interlocutory appeal of that order, Judge  Aiken denied the Trump administration's motions on June 8, 2017.

On June 28, 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. Youth plaintiffs, now age 10 to 21, and their attorneys are now preparing for trial!

On July 28, 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 on August 25th, and the youth plaintiffs filed their answer on August 28th. Further, eight amicus briefs were filed with the Ninth Circuit in support of the youth plaintiffs. The US government defendants now have until September 11th to reply before the Ninth Circuit will issue its ruling on whether the case can proceed to trial.

Are you a lawyer looking to help out, pro bono? Please fill out this form to share your interest.

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