The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a lawsuit filed by young people to force the federal government to take steps in fighting climate change. The case was filed by 21 young people in 2015. The plaintiffs, who are now 11 to 22 years old, argued that the failure of government leaders to fight climate change violated their constitutional rights to a clean environment.
The suit aims to compel the government to scale back its support for fossil fuel extraction and production, and to support policies that aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
The Trump White House moved for an emergency ruling to block a hearing of the case set to begin on Monday in an Oregon federal court. The high court, however, refused to block the case on Friday. The Supreme Court turned down the request from the administration to halt the lawsuit and allowed the case to proceed toward a trial set later this year.
Bloomberg reported that the justices’ order said that the request from the administration was premature but said that the government could present its arguments before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the future.
Our Children’s Trust, one of the organizations that support the suit, hailed the ruling. “The youth of our nation won an important decision today from the Supreme Court that shows even the most powerful government in the world must follow the rules and process of litigation in our democracy,” Our Children’s Trust executive director Julia Olson said, according to the Huffington Post.
The Trump administration blamed the trial judge for letting the case to go forward saying that she had endorsed a never-before-recognized right to a climate system that does not have any support from the Constitution, the court’s precedents, or the history and tradition of the nation. The government also argued it is a waste of time and money to litigate a claim that would likely be dismissed.
The lawyers who press the case, on the other hand, said that the government was attempting to short circuit the usual litigation process and that the harm to the climate system poses threat to the foundation of life, which include those of the young people involved in the case. According to Vox, the Supreme Court’s action suggests that it is very interested in the issues at play and that the justices anticipate that the case could have significant ripple effects.