Yesterday, Federal appeals court judges had a hearing for Juliana v. United States. The case, originally filed by 21 teenagers back in 2015 (some of them are young adults now) argues govt should be held accountable for their failure to guarantee a livable planet for the youth.

Youth v. Gov

The young plaintiffs (the lawsuit is also known as “Youth v. Gov”) argue that:

  • The U.S. govt has violated their constitutional right to a livable climate by continuing to develop and promote fossil fuels for decades
  • The govt has also failed to protect the air as part of the public trust, which includes land, water, and wildlife, it must maintain for its citizens

Historically, environmental lawsuits have been done on a case-by-case basis, for example, taking the pipeline company to court on the state level, but Youth v. Gov takes it to a new level by taking on the federal government for their gross inaction and demands from them sweeping, large-scale green initiatives going forward.

Trump admin thinks livable planet a luxury

However, this is Trump’s America where Methane gas gets rebranded and promoted as “Freedom gas”. Trump admin lawyers argued that “there is no fundamental constitutional right to a ‘stable climate system'”.

Huh? we don’t deserve stable climate system?

Criminal negligence but Courts still not sure what to do

The judges acknowledged the young plaintiffs are presenting injuries from climate change that meet the bar to bring legal action. Judge Hurwitz, 1 of the 3 judges overseeing the case, said that the plaintiffs “present compelling evidence that we have a real problem. And you present compelling evidence that we have inaction. It may even rise to the level of criminal negligence”.

However, he was also quick to add “But the question for me is, do we get to act because of that?”

Basically, the judges responded in the most adult-like ways – appearing to be empathetic but still sidestepping the responsibilities. It’s unclear when the judges will make the decision whether or not to allow the case to go forward.


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