Juliana v. U.S. is a stunning landmark lawsuit filed by 21 young people who claim that the government’s actions, and inaction, in the face of global warming violate their “fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” Dubbed the climate “trial of the century,” the case began in 2015 and has overcome a multitude of hurdles despite relentless efforts by the Trump administration to halt its progress. The children are aging and the majority of them can now vote.

A list of court orders and additional information can be found at Our Children’s Trust, the non-profit responsible for this and many other youth climate cases across the country. Julia Olson is their Chief Legal Counsel.

A youth led climate justice organization, Zero Hour, launched a drive in February 2019, to support this lawsuit. In eleven days 30,000 young people added their names to a Young People’s Brief in Support of the Juliana plaintiffs. This “friend of the court” brief was filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 1, 2019.

On January 17, 2020, a divided federal court, having heard the case in June 2019, concluded that the plaintiffs did not have standing. Our Children’s Trust filed briefs on March 12, 2020 urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to convene a new panel of 11 circuit court judges to review the January ruling.

On February 10, 2021, the Ninth Circuit voted not to rehear the case. Attorneys and the youth plaintiffs are planning to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have also asked the Biden-Harris DOJ to meet to discuss settlement options to protect the youths’ fundamental rights.

In early February, 2021, Joel Stronberg wrote a stunning summary of the case.

Subsequently, the plaintiffs asked the District Court in Oregon for permission to file an amended complaint. The Court will hear the request sometime in April or May, 2021. The Government is expected to resist the request. Plaintiffs are now asking the Court to declare the national energy system unconstitutional for violating plaintiffs’ rights to substantive due process and equal protect of the law. The Court will likely rule sometime late spring or early summer.

The following timeline marks all the major events from the first filing to the present.

Youth and attorneys involved in the Our Children's Trust federal lawsuit. (Photos copyright Robin Loznak)
    • The-Ninth-Circuit-Upholds-Panel-Decision

      The Ninth Circuit Upholds Panel Decision

      The Ninth Circuit fails to correct the legal errors in March 2020’s panel decision and upholds the panel’s ruling. A judge requested a vote on whether to rehear the case, but a majority of judges…

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      The Ninth Circuit upholds the panel’s ruling.

    • Landmark Children’s Climate Lawsuit Hits New Roadblock

      Judge Ann Aiken issued an order certifying Juliana v. United States for interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In staying the case pending a decision by the Ninth Circuit, Judge Aiken maintained…

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      Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide Whether Juliana vs. United States Goes to trial

    • Supreme Court Refuses to Halt Kids Climate Case

      The Supreme Court denied the federal government’s request to halt discovery and the trial in the youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States. The court’s rejection means the case will likely proceed to trial on…

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      Supreme Court rules in favor of Youth