A federal judge said the ‘Climate Kids’ can continue their lawsuit against the federal government but cannot name President Donald Trump as a defendant.
The Monday decision by U.S. District Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon came less than two weeks before the climate change lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial.
Reuters reports that the plaintiffs consist of ‘twenty-one children and young adults,’ all of whom were between 8 and 19 years of age when the lawsuit was first filed. Initially pegging the Obama administration as a culpable for man-made climate change, the youths accuse ‘federal officials and oil industry executives of violating their due process rights by knowing for decades that carbon pollution poisons the environment, but doing nothing about it.’
Originally filed in 2015, the suit claims that young Americans are “especially vulnerable” to the dangerous situation created by global warming. Extreme weather events, such as flood and violent hurricanes, have allegedly damaged the health, safety, cultural practices, food security and economic stability of the upcoming generation.
“When the climate science is brought into the courtroom, it will result in the judge finding that the government is committing constitutional violations,” said the youths’ attorney, Phil Gregory.
Aiken has suggested that the case reveals the balance of power between the judiciary and other branches of government.
While Aiken doesn’t seem sure of the court’s rule in mitigating climate change, she’s since said that concerns over applicability don’t warrant a dismissal.
The original lawsuit, notes Reuters, named then-President Barack Obama as a defendant. After Trump was sworn into the Oval office, the suit was amended to name him as a defendant, too.
Other changes were made to reflect the current leadership of various federal agencies, all of which and all of whom are listed as defendants.
Gregory says the ‘Climate Kids’ had already agreed to continue the suit without Trump’s name on the other side.
“The law is unclear whether and to what extent a court can issue an order to a sitting president,” Gregory said, adding that Aiken’s ruling still allows the suit to challenge department leaders within the Trump administration.
“These agencies are actively infringing on constitutional rights and the judge can issue an order stopping them without including the president,” Gregory said.
Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice say the lawsuit is an unconstitutional and illegal filing, in large part because it seeks to dictate climate policy through a single court.
Jeffrey Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said climate policy should be decided by elected officials rather than judges.
In the meantime, the Justice Department has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the case and allow for the possibility of a Supreme Court review.
Aiken has, in her own right, said there’s sufficient evidence to support the Climate Kids’ claims.