U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Ninth Circuit Stays 21 Children's Climate Change Case

A lawsuit filed by a group of 21 young people against the federal government due to climate change is less crazy than it actually sounds. A federal district court judge in Oregon ruled the case could proceed to trial, despite the government's objections. However, due to a request for review filed by the White House, the Ninth Circuit has stayed the litigation in the district court pending its review.

While there has not been any indication of whether the Ninth Circuit will actually disturb the lower court's ruling, what is clear is that the appellate court is going to review the matter. Proponents of the case are hopeful that after review, nothing changes. Whether a briefing schedule, or call for briefs at all has been issued is not currently known. What is known is that the case is still set for trial in early 2018.

What's This Case About?

It's easy to say that these kids are suing the government due to climate change and move on, but what's really at issue is government policies that favor fossil fuels, and other industries that pollute. The case seeks to hold the government accountable for poor policies affecting climate change. The 21 young people behind this lawsuit range in age from preteen through adult teens, and are situated as representative of the individuals with the most to lose in society, the future generations of children.

Additionally, given the current political climate, it is worth noting that when this case was filed in 2015, President Obama was in office.

Should the Judiciary be Making Decisions on Climate Policy?

One of the interesting questions presented by this case is whether the judiciary should even be making decisions regarding climate policy matters. Regardless of one's own personal beliefs on the issue, the judiciary is tasked with reviewing laws passed by Congress, and that would include the laws that impact climate policy. As the district court explained, this case creates a justiciable issue on climate policy for the court.

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