WASHINGTON (CN) – A group of children pushing for a national remedial plan to phase out emissions of carbon dioxide urged the Supreme Court on Monday not to put off their upcoming trial.
Represented by the nonprofit Wild Earth Advocates, the children brought their response brief after the U.S. government complained in an Oct. 18 filing that the “this improper suit … is now on the eve of a bifurcated trial, of which the liability phase alone is estimated to last for 50 days.”
Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana and 20 other children brought the suit at issue three years ago in Oregon. As noted in the government’s stay demand, the suit does not challenge specific agency actions or inactions but rather alleges that the government’s “affirmative aggregate acts” over the past 50 years are causing a “dangerous climate system.”
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco accused the challengers of “asserting a new and unsupported fundamental due process right to certain climate conditions,” but the challengers defended their case Monday.
“As the district court wrote, this is ‘a civil rights action’ under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the brief states. “It is also not a case that hinges on a newly recognized unenumerated fundamental right, as petitioners misstate. Regardless of the court’s views on plaintiffs’ public trust claim or the newly recognized unenumerated right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life, the trial would still move forward on plaintiffs’ other Fifth Amendment claims. These children have claimed infringement of their fundamental rights not to be deprived of their personal security and family autonomy – rights already recognized by this court under the liberty prong of the Due Process Clause. These children also claim specific and systemic government discrimination against them as a class in violation of their right to equal protection under the law.”
Though the Supreme Court did grant a temporary stay on Friday to allow time for this response, the challengers said that the case should otherwise remain on track.
“This case clearly poses profoundly important constitutional questions, including questions about individual liberty and standing, the answers to which depend upon the full evaluation of evidence at trial,” the brief states.
“This court will have the opportunity to review these questions after trial and address the differences of opinion the court may have. However, to stay this case now, and to reach these questions prematurely, would deprive this court of the record necessary for considered appellate review of the claims presented, profoundly disrupt the separation of powers underlying this court’s most vital role, severely interfere with the orderly administration and resolution of cases and the reservation of appellate consideration until after final judgment, and unnecessarily undermine the confidence of the American people in our nation’s justice system.”
In addition to Wild Earth Advocates, the challengers are represented by the Gregory Law Group and the Law Offices of Andrea Rodgers.