Category Archives: Miamisearise.com

Climate Change & The U.S. Supreme Court: Playing Politics with our Future

I am deeply proud of my work with the fine lawyers at Our Children’s Trust, the firm that is helping litigate the landmark lawsuit I’ve been party to (Reynolds v. State of Florida), as well as the Federal litigation (Juliana v. United States), that are attempting to have the courts require state and federal governments to enforce laws to clean and protect our climate. The work that Julia Olson and her team, people like Andrea Rogers who helps me here in Florida, conducts is important and impactful.

The comments and answers we are hearing from lawyer Judge Amy Barrett, who will soon replace the iconic RBG on the US Supreme Court, on a range of social and environmental issues that will help shape our future are certainly also important and impactful. Her answers and views on equality, women’s rights and, yes, our environment including our climate change crisis, are critically important to every American.

And every American should shudder to think that someone who will soon be in a lifetime position to rule on all sorts of important laws sees our climate change crisis as a political issue rather than wanting to focus on the science and facts. Here’s what she said when asked about whether she believes climate change is happening, in effect if it is real:

I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.”

– Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Responding To A Senate Judiciary Question on Whether Climate Change Is Happening

What kind of an answer is that from an educated person who will soon sit on the highest court in our land? A frightening one for sure.

And with this in mind I’d like to share much of the content that Our Children’s Trust has just published about Judge Barrett’s nomination and especially her answers related to our climate change crisis.

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Dear friends,

Earlier today, Judge Barrett offered the above response to Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) when asked about climate change. Later in the afternoon, in an exchange with Senator Kamala Harris, Judge Barrett was asked whether she believed that COVID-19 was infectious, whether smoking causes cancer, and whether climate change is real. Here is part of their exchange:

           Senator Harris: “Do you believe climate change is happening and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?”

           Judge Barrett: “…You have asked me a series of questions that are completely uncontroversial like whether COVID-19 is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer, and then trying to analogize that eliciting…. an opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter  of public debate and I will not do that. I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that’s inconsistent with the judicial role as I have explained.” (emphasis ours)

Judge Barrett signaled today to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she believes climate change is a matter of politics not science. We vehemently disagree. We expect lifetime jurists on our nation’s highest court to understand and respect what is overwhelmingly established scientific fact: Climate change is real and it is caused by human activity. 

Judge Barrett answered questions today about the scientific reality of COVID-19 even while religious freedom cases challenging governmental COVID-19 policies are working their way through multiple courts and could end up in the Supreme Court. We understand she can’t comment on government climate policies, but she should be able to truthfully answer questions on the scientific reality of climate change.

And it isn’t just scientists who know this. Alongside the world’s governments, scientists, children, and faith leaders, Pope Francis, in Laudato Si and more recently in Fratelli Tutti has said that climate change is the most serious issue facing humanity. Just this week, the Pope said that science tells us every day “that urgent action is needed . . . if we are to keep the hope of avoiding radical and catastrophic climate change. And for this we must act now. This is a scientific fact.” 

Before any vote is taken, Judge Barrett needs to clarify her opinion on and understanding of climate science and whether she would respect credible scientific evidence in cases before her. Contrary to what her responses at the hearings suggest, Supreme Court Justices don’t just interpret the law, and they don’t avoid hearing cases on issues they might view as being contentious; instead they apply law to the facts and evidence, even when it involves complex areas of science.

Our Children’s Trust has sent questions to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, demanding answers on Judge Barrett’s understanding of climate science and whether she would respect expert evidence in cases before her, as well as the constitutional rights of children.

It is clear that Judge Barrett will soon be given a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court. The Republican Party, led by President Trump, has clearly decided to set aside the protocol of decency and decorum that’s been followed in the past (much less common sense) and instead force the issue upon our nation before it’s too late (meaning before the November 3rd, 2020 election) for them.

As we vote in the upcoming election, please keep in mind that candidates for an office such as the Presidency or that of a Governor are in positions to nominate and appoint judges that have a lasting impact on our society long after those elected officials have left elected office. And as Judge Barrett made clear this week, judges can be biased and prefer to play politics rather than focus on the facts and our collective futures and that, my friends, should alarm each of us.

Please vote like our future depends on it… because it does.

Youth Vote Day of Action with Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Youth Vote Day of Action

Join the Florida Democratic Party for a Youth Vote Day of Action Saturday, October 10th at 12:00 pm EST! Attendees will include elected officials, candidates, party leaders, activists and volunteers to ensure that every vote is cast and counted! Special Guests Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg, Representative Anna V. Eskamani and Delaney Reynolds will kick off the event and following the panel and Q&A session, volunteers will join a campaign’s text banks to contact young voters to chase ballots and ensure Democrats vote their entire ballot!

Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/floridadems/event/334577/.

The World is Ablaze

Reynolds v. The State of Florida Update

As an update to our landmark youth climate change lawsuit against the State of Florida, our Governor, and other elected “leaders” I am pleased to share a copy of the brief that my friends and I filed today with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. You can find a copy of our legal brief by clicking here.

The next step in the appeal process is that the state of Florida will file their own legal brief in answer to the one we filed today. We will then have a chance to reply to the state’s response and once those steps are complete we will have another day in court (or before the court via zoom) for oral arguments before the judge. I do not yet know how long these next steps will take but rest assured that I will update everyone as soon as I know more.

I also want to share that while the filing of our brief is good news it comes at a time where many have a heavy heart over the increasing degradation of our planet from the climate change crisis. Consider Alex Loznak, a peer who is a Plaintiff in the federal lawsuit Juliana Versus United States  and a student at Columbia University where he’s studying Sustainable Development. Alex and his family are sadly in the midst of a Level 1 fire alert at their farm in Southern Oregon as I type this post and could be forced to evacuate their home at any moment.

Temperatures all over the American West have set horrific records in recent weeks, often breaking former records that were decades or even a century or more old, and have resulted in over 100 wildfires that are raging in California, Oregon and Washington. It’s no coincidence that places like Death Valley California, which experienced what will likely be deemed a world record high temperature of 130 degrees one day last month according to the National Weather Service, are increasingly experiencing truly extreme heat.

No, it’s not a coincidence, not at all, it’s the result of the world’s climate change crisis and a century long love affair with fossil fuels.

And so Alex and his family and countless others are forced to live in a place that looks like another planet or something out of a science fiction story. A place where the sky is an ominous orange, where the smell of smoke follows you everywhere and where you constantly fear for life.

And if any of us need more motivation to realize that what’s happening all around us, what with rising seas, melting glaciers and skies ablaze with deadly fire from record setting heat here’s a recent picture of Alex at his Oregon farm.

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Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand (or should it be a million?) words.

Or so I hope it is.

Allow me to end by thanking the other Co-Plaintiffs that have sued the State of Florida with me: Levi, Isaac, Luxia, Jose, Oliver, Valholly and Oscar. These young people, ages 11 to 20 when our initial lawsuit was filed in 2018, are incredibly brave citizens that have made enormous sacrifices through the process of this lawsuit to try to make our state and its environment better for future generations and I can’t thank each of them enough. I’d also be remiss to not thank our incredible team of lawyers, each of which is working on our case on a pro-bono (free) basis and are as passionate about our concerns, much less share our zeal, as we are. Thanks to  Guy, Mitch, Andrea, Erin, Wallace, Deb, Jane and Matt for your own sacrifices, energy and wisdom.

The time has come for America and Americans to step up and lead the world into a sustainable future, to close the chapter on our fossil fuel history and to embrace factual based science. COVID-19, raging wildfires, increasingly more frequent and larger catastrophic hurricanes and on and on should make it clear to all of us that we must do better.  My friends and I are doing our part, of that I promise. I’d only ask that you do yours and vote in the coming election.

Vote for honesty and decency and science. Yes, please don’t forget science.

And vote for my young friends and I including those not yet old enough to vote but surely old enough to know right from wrong and disgusted by all of the wrong they see adults doing right before our eyes.

And while you are at it, please vote for the future, for those youth that will follow us forever more. They deserve better. Much better.

And finally, please vote as if the world all around us is ablaze.

Because it is.

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