Washington, DC and Eugene, Oregon – On Thursday, November 8, a federal judge ruled that youth plaintiffs may proceed with their historic climate change lawsuit in the case of Juliana et al v. United States. The judge refused to dismiss their complaint asserting that, in causing climate change, the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property and has failed to protect essential public trust resources.
In September, the League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) joined the League of Women Voters United States (LWVUS) to file an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The brief argued that the case should not be dismissed as a “political question” because, as in some voting rights cases, the youth plaintiffs assert a diminishment of their voices in representational government.
Other innovative legal issues include the argument that the Constitution protects a fundamental right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life, and that the “public trust doctrine” protects the climate for future generations.
The Leagues congratulate the 21 young people from across the United States who filed the landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit against the federal government, via the Eugene, Oregon-based organization, Our Children's Trust.
The case addresses the dire threat of climate change in the face of persistent congressional and executive inaction and political gridlock. The court is being called upon to ensure our nation’s leaders fulfill their obligation to sustain and protect our nation’s natural resources for generations to come. The trial portion of the case is expected to follow.