In blow to Trump, justices won’t halt kids’ climate case

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s long-shot bid today to halt a high-profile lawsuit brought by youth plaintiffs over the government’s role in causing climate change.

In a brief order, the court called the administration’s emergency application to stay discovery and a scheduled trial “premature.”

The denial of the request could be Justice Anthony Kennedy’s last action on the high court. His retirement is effective tomorrow.

A group of youth plaintiffs, currently ranging from ages 11 to 22, initially brought the suit against the Obama administration, alleging that the government had violated its duty to protect the public trust by ensuring that the atmosphere, water, seas, seashore and wildlife are safe for future generations.

The government — first the Obama administration and then the Trump administration — has tried several times to quash the suit. Both the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have greenlighted the suit.

The application to the Supreme Court was seen as a last-ditch effort to halt what plaintiffs have termed the “trial of the century” beginning in late October in front of the district court.

The administration presented its stay application to Kennedy, as he has been the justice who oversees the 9th Circuit. Kennedy referred the government’s request to the full court.

While it rejected the administration’s request, the Supreme Court appeared to recognize the substantial scope of the litigation.

The “breadth” of the claims brought by the youth plaintiffs is “striking,” the court noted.

“The justiciability of those claims presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion,” the order says. “The District Court should take these concerns into account in assessing the burdens of discovery and trial.”

Justices also called on the district court to promptly rule on motions that the government has filed, including a bid to remove President Trump from the lawsuit and assertions that the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims can’t be heard by the courts.