The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt a novel and sweeping lawsuit pressed by children and teenagers seeking to force the federal government to take steps against climate change.
Rejecting a Trump administration request, the high court let the case proceed toward a trial that’s scheduled for later this year. The administration sought to block further progress on the three-year-old Oregon case until a federal trial judge acts on the government’s bid to throw out the lawsuit.
The justices’ order said the administration’s request was premature. The court added that breadth of the lawsuit’s claims was "striking" and the question of whether they can be decided by a court "presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion." The justices said the trial judge should take those matters into account in considering whether to make a "prompt ruling" on other government efforts to end the lawsuit.
The group of mostly teenagers say government policies have exacerbated global warming in violation of their constitutional rights and those of future generations. They want the government to put in place a plan to phase out carbon emissions and stabilize the Earth’s climate.
The Trump administration faulted the trial judge for letting the case go forward, saying she had endorsed "a never-before-recognized fundamental right to a particular climate system that lacks any support in the Constitution, this court’s precedents, or this nation’s history and tradition."
The Trump team inherited the case from the Obama administration, which had similarly tried to have the case thrown out.
The lawyers pressing the case said the government was trying to short-circuit the usual litigation process. They contended that "the harm to the climate system threatens the very foundation of life, including the personal security, liberties, and property" of the youths involved in the case.
The case is United States v. U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, 18A65.
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