By: Jonathan Stempel of Reuters
A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected the U.S. government’s bid to halt a lawsuit by young people claiming that President Donald Trump and his administration are violating their constitutional rights by ignoring the harms caused by climate change.
By a 3-0 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the administration had not met the “high bar” under federal law to dismiss the Oregon lawsuit, which was originally brought in 2015 against the administration of President Barack Obama.
The potentially far-reaching case is one of a handful seeking to have courts address global warming and its causes.
Twenty-one plaintiffs, now aged 10 to 21, accused federal officials and oil industry executives of knowing for decades that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels destabilise the climate, but refusing to do anything about it.
They said this has deprived them of their due process rights to life, liberty and property, including to live in a habitable climate.
U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon in November 2016 refused to dismiss the lawsuit, saying a quick dismissal without addressing the merits could sanction the government’s alleged “knowing decision to poison the air.”
In seeking to overturn that ruling, the government said letting the case proceed could lead to burdensome litigation, and provoke a “constitutional crisis” by pitting courts against Trump and the many other Executive Branch officials named as defendants.