Victory for Youth in Federal Climate Case

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Victory for Youth in Federal Climate Case

 

FEDERAL COURT AFFIRMS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF KIDS AND DENIES MOTIONS OF GOVERNMENT AND FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN YOUTH’S LANDMARK CLIMATE CHANGE CASE

Today, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of our 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry.

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The judge resoundingly rejected all arguments raised by the Federal Government and Fossil Fuel Industry in their Motions to Dismiss that sought to deny youth their fundamental rights under the constitution and  public trust doctrine.

Instead, Judge Coffin decided that the youth’s case must proceed. He wrote:

“The intractability of the debates before Congress and state legislatures and the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life, necessitates a need for the courts to evaluate the constitutional parameters of the action or inaction taken by the government. This is especially true when such harms have an alleged disparate impact on a discrete class of society.”

The Court’s decision upheld the youth Plaintiffs’ Fifth and Ninth Amendment claims and upheld their assertion of violations under the public trust doctrine, ruling that there is a federal public trust and that plaintiffs’ claims can proceed.

Judge Coffin accepted the youth’s presentation of undisputed scientific evidence that the federal government has damaged and continues to damage these young Plaintiffs’ personal security and other fundamental rights. Now these young plaintiffs have the right to prove that the government’s role in harming them has been knowing and deliberate for more than 50 years.

Dr. James Hansen said:

“Science clearly establishes that our planet’s increasing energy imbalance – caused in substantial part by our government’s support for the exploitation and combustion of fossil fuel – imposes increasingly severe risks on our common future.  Now, from Eugene Oregon, comes a prescient and insightful ruling from a federal district court.  Judge Coffin in effect declares that the voice of children and future generations, supported by the relevant science, must be heard.  We will now proceed to prove our claims.  It is perhaps not too late for serious action to preserve a viable climate system that will be required by our posterity.”

The next step in the case will be a review of Judge Coffin’s decision by another judge in the same court, Judge Ann Aiken.

Kelsey Juliana, youth plaintiff from Eugene, OR, observed that:

“This decision marks a tipping point on the scales of justice. Youth voices are uniting around the world to demand that Government uphold our constitutional rights and protect the planet for our and future generations’ survivability. This will be the trial of the century that will determine if we have a right to a livable future, or if corporate power will continue to deny our rights for the sake of their own wealth.”

Links:

Our Childrens Trust home page

Original story: here

Read the press release: here

Read Judge Coffin’s order: here
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