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. Their reasoning was that the youth plaintiffs were asking the courts to do things that only the legislative and executive branches can do. They threw them out on the doctrine of standing.
On February 16, 2021, Joel Stronberg wrote a stunning summary of the case.
Subsequently, the plaintiffs went back to the the District Court in Oregon to Judge Aiken, who issued the original ruling, for permission to file an amended complaint. That motion to reopen the case is still pending. In the meantime, Judge Aiken has directed the government DOJ and the attorneys representing the plaintiffs into mediation before retired Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin.
On June 8, 2021, Youth v Gov reported that 17 Republican state attorneys general have filed a motion to intervene in the Juliana case to oppose the Motion to Amend filed by the plaintiffs in March.
Another stunning blog from Joel Stronberg was published on 7/28/2021
Hold your breath…
The timeline below marks all the major events from the first filing to the present.
FYI: The feature documentary YOUTH v GOV follows these 21 young Americans suing the world’s most powerful government to protect their constitutional rights to a stable climate. If they win, they will change the future. Available on Netflix!