Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Trump team wants kids’ climate case shut down now

October 18, 2018 by Lyle Denniston


The Trump Administration, out of patience with lower courts’ handling of a sweeping, three-year-old lawsuit demanding that the government act to create a safer environment, asked the Supreme Court on Thursday morning to end that case altogether and, in the meantime, to halt any move toward a trial at the end of this month.

In a flurry of requests, filed with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Administration lawyers made a broad legal assault on a case filed by 21 children who are worried about their own and the nation’s environmental future.  A federal judge in Eugene, Ore., District Judge Ann L. Aiken, has set a trial to begin on October 29, focused on her ruling that there is a constitutional right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.”

The children’s claim, one of the new government filings argued, “amounts to the astounding assertion that permitting or encouraging the combustion of fossil fuels violates…the Constitution and [that] a single district court in a suit brought by a handful of [individuals] may decree the end of the carbon-based features of the United States’ energy system without regard to [federal laws that Congress passed] to address such issues with broad public input.”

The federal lawyers argued that the mere existence of the lawsuit violates a host of federal laws and undermines the Constitution’s doctrine of separating powers between the branches of the federal government, with the judiciary taking over from the politically elected branches.


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