Will We Violate Our Children's Trust?

Photo: DeSmogBlog

Photo: DeSmogBlog

Days away from a crucial Supreme Court hearing on climate change, Trump has directed “his” Dept of Justice to kill the case called Our Children’s Trust case on the eve of trial.

This is a trial for which 21 youth plaintiffs have been preparing for 3 years. They preceded the Parkland students who are challenging adults for forfeiting the fight to protect children from military-armed kids who shoot up schools. Their protest anthems are “We Are the Power” and “Children Will Lead the Way.”

The youth plaintiffs in the Our Children's Trust case are already leading the way by suing President Trump for ignoring climate change. I’ve been following these children (by now they range from age 14 to 22) for years and marveling at their resilience as they’ve overcome three motions in district court, two motions in the Ninth Circuit, and one in the Supreme Court – all demands by Trump to dismiss their case.

They have won their constitutional claims as children to equal protection under the law. They have made their case for discrimination when their government discounts the value of their lives in making decisions about our nation’s energy system. And they demand their day in court

to present irrefutable evidence of the accelerating destruction of the earth they will inherit.

But here’s the richest part. Trump’s Justice Dept claims the ‘impending harm” to the government is the costs of litigation! It could involve more than a million dollars of legal fees—heaven forfend! Poor President Trump, the self-made sham of a multi-billionaire, might have to interrupt his hypnotic gaze at Fox and the aging tremors that may cause his repetitive tweets -- and actually READ what these children are asking for.

I implore all of you to write about this, tweet and post about it, urge your friends and neighbors to weigh in on this valiant effort-- representing your children and grandchildren -- to speak sense and solid facts before a Supreme Court stacked against them.

These peaceful young activists activists have been working with a team of 20 world-class experts in law and science, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and renowned climate scientists including Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Dr. Eric Rignot.

Julia Olson, the chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust and co-counsel for youth plaintiffs, argues:  

“This Department of Justice is calling the District Court’s actions in holding a trial a “judicial ‘usurpation of power.’” On the contrary, it would be a complete abdication of responsibility by the third branch of government not to declare the constitutional rights of these young people and not to hear the evidence in this fundamental rights case.

"If in the 1950s the Supreme Court had prevented the children in Brown v. Board of Education from going to trial, the courts would never have had the opportunity to say that separate but equal was unconstitutional.”

Kelsey Juliana is the lead plaintiff. In interviews with her, I learned how early she learned to revere the natural world. She was born in 1996 in a one-room cabin in a dense forest of Eugene, Oregon. Her parents worked for non-profits lobbying to save forests from fires and protect wilderness.

She was ten years old when she led her soccer team to the opening football game at University of Oregon and staged a pom pom rally for Climate Action. Most people didn’t know much about global warming at that time (2006), but the girl’s passion brought fans to their feet to cheer. C-span filmed it, and the issue caught the attention of a new audience.

Today, the 22-year-old university student argues forcefully that childrens’ constitutional rights are being violated by the government’s repudiation of the rock-solid scientific consensus that his denial of the truth is preventing swift action to slow the devastation of droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires that are consuming many parts of our country.

Vic Barrett, a 19-year-old plaintiff from White Plains, New York, argues, ”This case is not about money. This is not about the “harms to the government.” This is about my future and the future of our youngest generations. Our Government exists to hear us and protect us. If we cannot go to our federal courts with real constitutional claims for relief and present our evidence at trial , then the people of this country have been failed by our third branch of government. This case needs to go to trial on October 29.”

Aji Piper, 18-year-old plaintiff from Seattle said, “At this moment in our country’s history when we are so divided, it is more important than ever that the judicial branch of our government maintains the trust and respect of the American public. There is nothing great about a country that abandons its children and future generations.”

Andrea Rodgers, senior staff attorney and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, commented: “Dozens of law schools across the United States are teaching Juliana because this case is so important for the future of this country. Top constitutional scholars have weighed in as amicus curiae. Seasoned judges in every branch of the judiciary have all given this case the greenlight to go to trial.”