The Kids’ Climate Case Will Not Be Derailed, Trial Begins in Two Weeks

Illustration for article titled The Kids’ Climate Case Will Not Be Derailed, Trial Begins in Two Weeks
Photo: Christian O’Rourke (Flickr)

On Monday, a judge ruled that while Donald Trump can’t be named as defendant in the kids climate lawsuit, the trial will go on. It sets up a historic courtroom showdown in two weeks that will pit youths’ constitutional rights to a stable climate against the federal government and its inaction on climate change.


The ruling comes after the latest in a salvo of attempts by the federal government to derail the suit. Past efforts have by and large failed, but the new motions found some results. The government argued that the president should be taken off the case as a defendant, saying he wasn’t essential to providing the plaintiffs’ relief. It also argued the scope of the case was too wide, and asked yet again for the whole case to get dismissed.

On the Trump front, the climate denier in chief is off the hook for now. In her decision, Judge Ann Aiken agreed with the government that Trump isn’t essential to the case since other parts of the federal government could provide the relief the 21 youth plaintiffs are seeking. Aiken didn’t, however, rule out that Trump’s name could be added back to the suit in the future.

The judge also narrowed the scope of suit by tossing out a part which was tied to the Ninth Amendment and rights to be sustained by the climate system. But the judge allowed the kids’ central argument—that climate change and its attendant impacts will deprive them of the right to life, liberty, and property protected under the Fifth Amendment—to proceed.

“At this stage, federal defendants have offered no legal or factual rationale significantly different from those offered in their previous motion to dismiss,” Aiken wrote, saying the suit would go to trial on October 29.

The high-profile suit began in federal court in 2015, naming then-President Barack Obama as a defendant. His administration tried to get the suit dismissed to no avail. When Trump took office two years ago, the defendant named in the suit changed, but the efforts to get it thrown out didn’t.

And the attempts to chip away at the case continue as the trial date looms. E&E News reports the government is now attempting to limit expert testimony from climate scientists. None of this appears to have taken wind out of the plaintiffs’ sails, though.


“Having contributed extensive personal testimony and research to help develop our case’s factual record over the past several years, I am confident that our arguments on the remaining disputed issues will ultimately prevail in court,” Alex Loznak, one of plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We still need a full and fair trial to prove our case. October 29, here we come!”

Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


Dense non aqueous phase liquid

This could go swimmingly or not.

It’s a nonjury trial so it’s not like jurors will have to find parking at the courthouse lot for five Subaru Outbacks, three Toyota Priuses, two Tesla Model 3s, one Tesla Model S, and a dude with his Ford F-250 4x4 crew cab that will probably take three compact car spaces. (total equals 12)

Federal or any government can only manage risk for environmental protection and human health impacts due to environmental damages.

Risk management is why Portland sends all its garbage over the Cascades east to Arlington, Oregon. It’s not like the administrative state of Portland metro outlawed garbage generation. It just moved the risk over to the red part of the state.

It has been and always will be a trade off between commerce and the environment - this protection of human health and the environment thing. The administrative state can only do so much. At least wealthy greens will be flush with cash to fund enviro nonprofits with their windfall from Trump’s tax cuts. I’m going to guess there will be less funding for the administrative state regardless of lawsuit outcome. So again, republicans against the administrative state wins.

If it’s not obvious, I don’t like environmental protection via the green charity industrial complex. Apparently, Obama’s admin didn’t like it either.