The US government just failed to stop a landmark climate lawsuit. Again.
Originally, 21 people, now ages 10 to 21, sued the government for contributing to climate change in violation of their constitutional rights during the Obama administration. After taking on the case, Trump administration officials last December argued that their lawsuit should be dismissed because it posed “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” demands.
But the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco wasn’t convinced, ruling on Wednesday that the case will go on. The three-judge panel wrote that the defendants’ arguments “do not satisfy” the criteria to stopping such a lawsuit early.
This is now the second court to reject the government's efforts to have the case dismissed. A federal district judge in Oregon denied the government’s request to dismiss the case in 2016, prompting the Justice Department to ask the 9th Circuit to intervene.
“The Ninth Circuit just gave us the green light for trial,” Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children’s Trust, the group representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We will ask the District Court for a trial date in 2018 where we will put the federal government’s dangerous energy system and climate policies on trial for infringing the constitutional rights of young people.”
There’s still no guarantee the case will make it to trial. But the new decision means the case can enter the next stage, called “discovery,” when the government starts responding to requests for information.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.