This past January 17 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Juliana v the US. Filed in 2015 by 21 children and others, the plaintiffs argued health harm caused by the federal government’s long support or promotion of the fossil fuel industry violates their Constitutional right to life and liberty, i.e., their right to a survivable climate. The plaintiffs argued further the court should redress this harm by issuing an injunction requiring the federal government to prepare a plan for judicial review and approval that would draw down green house gas emissions. In its defense the federal government argued there is no fundamental constitutional right to a stable climate system, or that the state of the climate has no connection to personal life and liberty. The court ruled 2-1 in favor of the US government, arguing the plaintiffs complaint was not redressable or was nonjusticiable, despite admitting "climate change was occurring at an increasingly rapid pace," "will wreak havoc on the Earth if left unchecked" and "may hasten an environmental apocalypse." The dissent argued the Constitution's perpetuity principle, that life and liberty is secured for both ourselves and posterity, does not "condone the Nation's willful destruction."
During this 30 minute discussion, Ms. Rodgers begins by describing the physical and mental health harm experienced by the Juliana plaintiffs. She notes organizations that contributed amicus briefs. She explains the majority opinion's reasoning (authored by Justice Andrew Hurwitz) that ruled in favor of the defense and the minority opinion authored by Justice Josephine Staton. She discusses media coverage of the case, related cases, moreover the December Urgenda decision by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands that ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the Juliana plaintiffs intent to appeal the January decision or petition the 9th Circuit Court for a rehearing en banc.
Ms. Andrea Rodgers is Senior Litigator Attorney at Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based public interest law firm, that represents the Juliana plaintiffs. In her role at Our Children's Trust she also is lead counsel on the constitutional youth climate lawsuits against the state of Washington, Aji v. State of Washington, and the state of Florida, Reynolds v. State of Florida. Previously, Ms. Rodgers served as an Honors Attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, In-House Legal Counsel for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, and Staff Attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. After graduation from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1998 and the Arizona State University School of Law in 2001, where she served as co-executive editor of Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science and Technology, she clerked for the Hon. John C. Gemmill on the Arizona Court of Appeals. In 2016, Seattle Met Magazine recognized her legal work representing youth in the Washington climate change case in King County Superior Court against the Washington Department of Ecology (Foster v. Ecology).
The 9th Circuit Court's January decision is at: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2020/01/17/18-36082.pdf.
For complete information on the Juliana case go to: https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/juliana-v-us.
Information on the Urgenda case decided this past December in the Netherlands is at: https://www.urgenda.nl/en/themas/climate-case/.