U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court refuses stay in youths' climate change suit, while offering advice to trial court

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay a lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 youths who claim a right to a climate capable of sustaining human life.

The high court’s order said the government’s request for relief is premature, report Courthouse News Service, the Hill, the Register-Guard, Reuters and SCOTUSblog.

The suit, filed in 2015, claims the federal government violated rights to due process by ignoring science and creating policies that spurred growth of the climate-destroying fossil fuel industry.

The Supreme Court order expressed some skepticism about the lawsuit. “The breadth of respondents’ claims is striking,” the order said, “and the justiciability of those claims presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion. The District Court should take these concerns into account in assessing the burdens of discovery and trial, as well as the desirability of a prompt ruling on the government’s pending dispositive motions.”

The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon. The government lost two appeals before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, most recently on July 20. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco had told the Supreme Court that a trial would “violate bedrock limitations on agency decisionmaking and the judicial process.”

According to Courthouse News Service, the Trump administration inherited the suit after the prior administration filed a reply “acknowledging in alarming detail the degree to which climate change has progressed, the calamitous threat it poses to current and future generations and some of the government’s role in causing the situation.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children’s Trust.

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