By Karen Savage
The Trump administration has filed another extraordinary appeal in its attempt to avoid a trial in the landmark youth-led climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States.
The government filed its third writ of mandamus petition to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay district court proceedings pending the resolution of a separate petition it plans to file with the Supreme Court next week. The Ninth Circuit denied the first two requests for a writ of mandamus—a rarely used and even more rarely approved judicial appeal that asks a higher court to overrule a lower one before the conclusion of a case—and the Supreme Court has already once denied a request by the federal government to halt discovery.
A writ of mandamus is usually granted only under extraordinary circumstances and is considered a legal last resort. The Ninth Circuit said after the first two requests that the government has not shown it would be meaningfully burdened by discovery or a trial.
The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29 at U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore.
Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said there is nothing new in the government’s latest petition.
“To suggest that our government suffers harm greater than its citizens by having to participate in a trial when its youngest citizens bring legitimate claims of constitutional harm before our Article III courts flies in the face of democratic principles,” said Olson.
Jacob Lebel, a 21-year-old plaintiff in the case, said the Trump administration doesn’t want to face the climate science that will be presented during the trial. He referred to a government report issued in August that predicts even more drastic global warming than previous reports assumed.
“The Trump administration’s own recent report indicates that we can expect 7 degrees F of warming before the end of this century,” Lebel said. “It is truly frightening that their priority in the face of this is to waste our time and the public’s resources by desperately trying to avoid trial.”
Vic Barrett, a 19-year-old plaintiff from White Plains, NY, said repeated attempts by the Trump administration to wrangle free of the case are telling.
“The most powerful government in the world sure is scared of a group of young people armed with the truth,” said Barrett.