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Court denies second petition to dismiss climate trial

July 21, 2018

Youth plaintiff Jacob Lebel, second from right, walks with some of his co-plaintiffs to their hearing in the Juliana v. United States climate change lawsuit at the federal courthouse in Eugene on Wednesday. The constitutional lawsuit was brought by 21 youth against the federal government. The government on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt proceedings in a climate-change lawsuit. If allowed to proceed, the trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29 at the federal courthouse in Eugene.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a second petition by the Trump administration to dismiss a climate case brought by 21 young plaintiffs against the federal government.

In a decision Friday, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sidney Thomas, Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon and Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland noted, “No new circumstances justify this second petition, and we again decline to grant mandamus relief.”

The court denied the government’s first petition to dismiss Juliana v. United States because it didn’t meet a high bar for relief.

In March, the court said, “The defendants will have ample remedies if they believe a specific discovery request from the plaintiffs is too broad or burdensome. Absent any discovery order from the district court, or even an attempt to seek one, however, the defendants have not shown that they have no other means of obtaining relief from burdensome or otherwise improper discovery.”

In Friday’s opinion, the panel of judges wrote that the issues the government raises in its petition would be better addressed through litigation.

Philip Gregory, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he agreed with the courts assessment.

“Candidly, the worst nightmare for the Trump administration is for this case to go to trial, where it will have to confront the stories of these young plaintiffs and the climate science and the constitutional law of our nation. As the Ninth Circuit opinion found, the government has made no showing that it would be meaningfully prejudiced by engaging in discovery or trial,” Gregory said in a press release.

The 21 plaintiffs, including Alex Loznak and Jacob Lebel of Douglas County, claim the federal government knew about climate change for decades, but continued to promote fossil fuel production

They ask the Trump administration to institute a national science-based climate recovery program.

On Tuesday, the administration asked the Supreme Court to suspend the trial.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has asked plaintiffs to respond to the Supreme Court motion by Monday, according to Our Children’s Trust spokeswoman Meg Ward.

The trial is set for Oct. 29.

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