Crag Law Center is representing the League of Women Voters of the United States and League of Women Voters of Oregon as friends of the court in the federal youth climate case Juliana v. United States.
On behalf of the Leagues, this Tuesday Crag filed an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the Trump Administration’s mandamus petition with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In all, eight amicus briefs, from legal scholars, religious, women’s, libertarian, and environmental groups, alongside legal nonprofits, displayed resounding legal support for denying the mandamus petition, and allowing the Juliana v. U.S. case to proceed to trial on February 5, 2018.
Friends of the court, or amici, are not parties to the case but may file briefs to help the court reach its decision. The Federal Government is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in the case before the issues are decided at trial. The Leagues’ brief argues that appellate intervention is unwarranted because the District Court is properly acting as a check and balance on the other branches of government to protect the constitutional rights of individuals, including children.
The Leagues work to encourage informed, active, and inclusive participation in government in order to promote political responsibility and to better serve the democratic interests and principles of all peoples of the United States, including underrepresented groups. Children do not have a vote, and therefore lack the potential for redress through the political branches. The judiciary truly is their last resort.
As Texas and Louisiana begin to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Florida braces for Hurricane Irma, and we in the Pacific Northwest are choking on the smoke of wildfires burning all around us, we cannot ignore the pressing nature of climate change. Children are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts because of the progressive nature of the changes, and because children’s growing bodies, unique behaviors and interaction with the world around them, and dependency on caregivers expose children to both direct and indirect climate change impacts. For example, children are more likely to develop asthma or other respiratory harms due to pollen changes and wildfire air quality impacts. Children are also more vulnerable to impacts from displacement due to flooding, fire, or sea level rise as community structures like schools and health care are disrupted.
The choices our governments make today will determine the magnitude of climate change risks beyond the next few decades. Yet children do not have rights of participation in our political process where these decisions are being made. And given that children will see compounding impacts of climate change over time, their rights must be addressed and protected by the court.
Read more about the groups supporting plaintiffs in Juliana v. U.S.
Featured photo: Plaintiff Victoria Barrett speaks during a press conference on the steps of the Federal Courthouse in Eugene. Twenty-one youth plaintiffs are suing the federal government in an attempt to force science based action on climate change change. (Robin Loznak/ZUMAPRESS.com)