A federal appeals court denied a request from the Trump administration to dismiss a lawsuit against it brought by a group of youths who believe the government should do more to fight climate change.
Filed in an Oregon district court 2015 by 21 kids — now aged 10-21 years old — and two environmental groups, the lawsuit claims that because the federal government has long known about the consequences of climate change stemming from fossil fuel emissions, it is constitutionally obligated to take stronger actions on the matter in order to protect the future of its children.
The youths argue that the government’s lack of action on the matter has infringed upon their rights to life, liberty and property.
The government attorneys said the suit was too broad and that the discovery process for documents and questioning would be too great a burden — and the suit should therefore be dismissed — but the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that dismissal now would be premature, as the district court has yet to issue a discovery order.
“The defendants’ argument fails because the district court has not issued a single discovery order, nor have the plaintiffs filed a single motion seeking to compel discovery. Rather, the parties have employed the usual meet-and-confer process of resolving discovery disputes,” the three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.
The panel rejected the government’s appeal with a 3-0 vote.
Previously, the Oregon court had rejected prior requests from the federal government to dismiss the case or restrict discovery. In response, the Trump administration took a rare step in appealing the 9th Circuit court for a “writ of mandamus,” in which the 9th Circuit court could order the lower Oregon court to dismiss the suit.
“Absent any discovery order, the mandamus petition is premature insofar as it is premised on a fear of burdensome discovery,” the Court of Appeals ruled.
The Oregon court can now proceed with the normal order of hearing the case.
The Trump administration has openly questioned humanity’s role in climate change and what the consequences could be. President Donald Trump has referred to climate change as a Chinese hoax, named fossil fuel industry advocate Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy and climate change skeptic and Scott Pruitt — a former Oklahoma attorney general — to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization he has sued on behalf of the oil industry more than a dozen times.
The Trump administration has moved to scrub mention of climate change from websites and literature put out by agencies like the EPA and the Department of Energy, despite overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change driven by humans is causing global warming.