The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to halt a lawsuit that represents a novel attempt by children and teenagers to sue the federal government over its inaction on climate change.
First filed in 2015 by a group of young Americans in Oregon, the lawsuit claims that the federal government's refusal to address climate change threatens the constitutional rights of young people and future generations who will come of age in a world of greater scarcity and danger. As Pacific Standard reported in 2016, the 21 plaintiffs allege that "the U.S. government's knowing inaction on climate has violated their right to 'life, liberty, and property' as enshrined in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment."
In 2016 the Obama administration pushed to have the lawsuit dismissed—only to find their motion refused by a U.S. District Court judge in Oregon. The judge's stunning legal decision, immediately controversial, then began its journey up to the Supreme Court. After inheriting the case from the Obama government, the Trump administration continued to maintain that the young people's lawsuit was illegitimate. However, on Monday, the Supreme Court declared that the government's motion to dismiss the case was premature.
In United States v. U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, 18A65, the justices acknowledged that the lawsuit "presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion," and advised the district court judge in Oregon to consider the "striking" breadth of the case before rejecting other attempts by the government to dismiss the lawsuit.