Why October 2018 Is Critical To Climate Change Cases
I am pleased to share two important legal updates with everyone related to both the historic Florida and Federal climate change lawsuits that youth are bringing against our State and Federal government and that are progressing through the courts.
Here in Florida the case Reynolds v. Florida, in which I am involved in suing Governor Rick Scott, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam and the State of Florida along with seven other children, we seek that the State uphold its legal duties outlined in the Florida Constitution and Public Trust Doctrine to protect our environment and current and future generations from the impacts of climate change.
As expected, the State responded to the lawsuit we filed in April by asking that the Court dismiss the case and on October 4th we will have a hearing in Judge Cooper’s courtroom in Tallahassee. You can read our lawsuit by clicking here and the Governor/State’s initial responses by clicking here.
We look forward to our day in Court and all of the children are excited about the opportunity to continue to seek justice here in Florida so as to protect our State and planet for future generations.
“The breadth of (the youth’s) claims is striking”
The folks at Our Children’s Trust, the people helping with my Florida case, are making fantastic progress with their Federal case: Juliana v. United States. President Trump and his Administration have been aggressively trying to stop that case but the Federal Courts, and most recently the Supreme Court, have sided with the children (and our environment) time and time again. Most recently, here’s what’s been happening in this critically important case:
- On May 25th, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin issued an order denying the Trump Administration’s motion for protective order and a stay of all discovery.
- On July 18th, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken heard oral arguments and considered the Trump Administration’s attempt to avoid a trial, something called Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings (MJP) and a Motion for Summary Judgement (MSJ). I am pleased to report that supporters of the children’s case filled the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse and three overflow rooms in Eugene, Oregon.
- On July 20th, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas and Circuit Judges Marsha Berzon and Michelle Friedland of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump Administration’s second petition for Writ of Mandamus.
- And most recently I am pleased to share that just this past Monday, July 30th, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the 21 youth plaintiffs. The Court denied the Trump Administrations application for a stay and, thus, preserved the U.S. District Court’s trial start date of October 29th, 2018. The Supreme Court also denied the government’s “premature”, that’s the word the Court used, request that it review the case before the district court hears all of the facts that support the children’s claims.
The Supreme Court wrote, in part, in rendering its judgement on Monday: The breadth of (the youth’s) claims is striking. The Court then went on to order the District Court to take the federal government’s “concerns into account in assessing the burdens of discovery and trial, as well as the desirability of a promote ruling on the Government’s pending dispositive motions.” To read more about the Supreme Court’s recently ruling please consider reading an article in the July 31st American Bar Journal that you can find here of from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Blog of July 30th that you can read here.
And speaking of Our Children’s Trust, October is also an important month for another landmark case, Martinez v. COGCC, a case that seven young plaintiffs have brought against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission including intervenors the American Petroleum Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association. I am pleased to advise that on October 16th, their attorneys will be arguing before the Colorado Supreme Court. Colorado’s youth are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to affirm a Court of Appeals ruling in their favor from March 2017 and to agree with their view that the Commission has an obligation to protect public health, safety and welfare from the oil and gas development and operations.
It is, I believe, unfortunate that anyone has to sue another entity, much less children having to sue our government, to protect our natural resources but I am incredibly proud of my brave co-plaintiff’s here in Florida, as well as the children all over America involved in the Federal case and other state cases such as Colorado and elsewhere. There is no more important issue to my generation, much less future generations, than the health and safety of our environment, starting with our climate change crisis.
Our concerns related to the global climate change crisis grows by the day and, while broad in their impact to the health and well-being of people, economies and our environment, it is critical that our society significantly evolve in sustainable ways before it’s too late.
The children and I humbly place our concerns into the hands of the American legal system in hopes that the Judges will have the wisdom to remove politics and special interests from the discussion, to focus on the overwhelming facts that support that human use of carbon emitting products such as fossil fuels is causing our climate to warm and to take action before it’s too late.