The suit accuses the federal government of violating young people’s constitutional rights by contributing to the climate crisis
Lee van der VooFirst published on Tue 4 Jun 2019 11.00 BST
Twenty-one youth activists faced off with the US government in an Oregon courthouse on Tuesday, where their attorneys petitioned a panel of judges to let their climate case go to trial. Until it does, their attorneys argued, fossil fuel development should be halted on public lands.
The case of Juliana v the US charges the federal government with violating the constitutional rights of youth by perpetuating systems that contribute to climate breakdown. Those young people – who range in age from 11 to 23 and hail from all corners of the nation – argue that the constitution gives them and future generations a right to an environment free of climate catastrophe.
Their previously scheduled trial was abruptly halted in October 2018 after the government successfully petitioned the supreme court for review. Now, a three-judge panel at the ninth circuit has the final say.
The panel did not issue a ruling on Tuesday.
“I think what’s at stake is the ability of these young people to vindicate their constitutional rights,” plaintiff attorney Andrea Rodgers, senior staff attorney for Our Children’s Trust, the not-for-profit group representing the youth plaintiffs, told the Guardian ahead of the hearing. The key determination ahead, essentially, is whether kids get a trial over climate breakdown.
Those stakes and the government’s handling of the case have catapulted it to rare courtroom celebrity. The youth plaintiffs are media regulars, with seemingly ubiquitous appeal: teen magazines, local newspapers, radio shows and recent appearances on 60 Minutes and in Vanity Fair. Hearings have been a spectacle, regularly mobbed by suit-and-tie types, kids of all ages, tie-dye and purple-haired grannies. More than 70 support rallies were held worldwide in lieu of a trial last fall.
The digital following is no less a curiosity. The youth climate movement has begun to claim Juliana as central to its own narrative, using support rallies to train young leaders and to turn up the digital volume on the case with hashtags like #AllEyesOnJuliana.
Tuesday’s hearing was livestreamed and broadcast into a park near the courthouse. Following the hearing, the plaintiffs walked from the courthouse to the park, where a marching band played and activists shouted chants. Levi Draheim, one of the plaintiffs, rode on the shoulders of Nathan Baring, another plaintiff.
Teen activists face US government in crucial hearing over climate trial | The Guardian
The suit accuses the federal government of violating young people’s constitutional rights by contributing to the climate crisis Lee van der VooFirst published on Tue 4 Jun 2019 11.00 BST Twenty-one youth activists faced off with the US government in an Oregon courthouse on Tuesday, where their attorneys petitioned a panel of judges to let… [Read More]