The Kids Day in Court

Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.” -Robert Kennedy

Today’s kids aren’t happy with our generation’s failure to be responsible trustees of the world, nor should they be. They may not be the first generation to be disappointed with their inheritance, but I believe they are the first ones to go to court in order to make changes. 

In August 2015, twenty-one children ages 10 to 21 from all over the country filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the United States government in the District of Oregon (JULIANA v. U.S. – CLIMATE LAWSUIT). The young Plaintiffs claim constitutional violations of due process, equal protection, and public trust principles, alleging that the federal government has failed to adequately address the devastating reality of global warming and has worsened climate change through continued authorization of fossil fuel development. The children seek a sweeping judicial order directing the federal government to swiftly phase-down carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions, develop a national plan to restore the Earth’s energy balance and right the constitutional harms, and implement the national plan so as to stabilize the climate system. 

The public trust holds that certain elements such as shorelines, or rivers, are commonly-held. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the federal government to preserve those for use by the public. Atmospheric trust takes that theory and applies it to the atmosphere, arguing that since the atmosphere is a commonly-held element shared by everyone, it’s the government’s duty to take care of it for future generations. The case also argues that by failing to preserve a livable climate for future generations, the federal government is denying the young plaintiffs their Constitutional right to due process. 

On June 28th, 2017 a trial date of February 5, 2018 was set , but the Trump administration filed a petition asking the Ninth Circuit Court to review the District Court’s decision.  The Ninth Circuit Court ruled to move forward and the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon set October 29, 2018, as the first day of trial in Juliana v. United States, the constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 young Americans against the U.S. government. These youth allege that the U.S. government has knowingly violated their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change. They are asking the Court to order the development of a science-based climate recovery plan by the federal government.Kids have also taken legal action in Washington, California, New Mexico Colorado, North Carolina, and Alaska. 

Stand in solidarity with these brave young people to empower them as they head into the courtroom to face the federal government. Help them show the Court that we need a climate recovery plan and that we need it now!

Even if you can’t make it to the courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, where the trial of the century will unfold, you can still participate in this historic moment from wherever you are in the world. We will continue to update this event with important information on how you can be involved. To join the #youthvgov movement, sign up now at www.youthvgov.org/join.

Adapted from the Our Children’s Trust website by Gary Munkhoff. 

For more info: https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/

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