U.S. Court Rejects “Our Children’s Trust” Youth Climate Lawsuit

via Common Dreams:

“In a ruling taken as a devastating blow for climate campaigners worldwide, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States on Friday afternoon threw out a lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs who accused the U.S. government of failing its constitutional mandate by refusing to act urgently and responsibly to address the existential threat of human-caused global warming.

The case at issue, Juliana vs. United States, has been seen as a potential landmark case not just domestically but across the globe and while the three-member panel of the 9th Circuit—notably seen as one of the country’s most liberal-minded circuit courts—agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that the U.S. government has operated as a barrier to climate action it concluded the courts were not the appropriate avenue for their complaint.

In the 2-1 majority ruling, written by Circuit Court Judge Andrew Hurwitz, he stated that while the panel was convinced by the narrative set forth in the lawsuit—agreeing the climate crisis has brought the world close to the “eve of destruction” and that “the government’s contribution to climate change is not simply a result of inaction”—it ultimately and “reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large.”

Deep Green Resistance covered this case back in November, when we published an article titled “The Legal System Will Not Save the Planet.” That article more or less predicated an ineffective outcome for this case—which is not something we revel in. We wish that this case were effective. But it will not be, for a variety of reasons discussed in that piece.

“Legally speaking, judges can rule anything they want, as long as they can justify it using legal precedent. But there are also specific legal and doctrinal barriers that confine all judges who sincerely believe in the structure of American law. Namely, as mentioned earlier, the notion that nature is property, that property can be rightfully destroyed or consumed by its owner, and the principles of corporate rights all stand in the way in the significant legal change. Further, even favorable court rulings would depend on the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. government, as well as on police, military, and other Federal employees, to enforce such a legal shift.”


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2 thoughts on “U.S. Court Rejects “Our Children’s Trust” Youth Climate Lawsuit”

  1. Things like this keep reminding me of the simple observation Derrick Jensen made in one of his videos, on the topic of saving the world: “We could, but we won’t.”

    Our original mistake was in organizing society beyond the village level, and inventing the notion of “real estate.” Once leaders were no longer accountable to their neighbors, and land became a commodity, rather than an inseparable element of global life, greed ruled. Those who could acquire more than their share demanded more still, and the rest of us took the cue. “Greed” was redefined as “progress,” and the race was on.

    The myth of personal wealth was born, which is only possible with perpetual growth — more people, more “stuff,” more wealth. And now that we’ve reached the limits of growth, no one with more than their share is willing to admit that the party’s over.

    Governments (some of them, at least) agree that the plunder of Nature has to stop. But they don’t back their words with deeds (the Paris climate accords, for instance). And the court, in this case, passed the buck back to the politicians.

    Civilization refuses to acknowledge that we live far beyond our means, and that the only way out is to reverse the growth ethic, and return to living from what Nature provides on an annual, sustainable basis. (Consider that in less than 300 years, we have burned most of the fossil fuels Nature produced in 300 MILLION YEARS.)

    Living with less is a message no one wants to hear, until we begin to understand that the only REAL wealth is Nature.

  2. This decision is not “a devastating blow” for anyone who knows what’s going on. I was very surprised that the case got as far as it did. As Mark, Max, and others have pointed out, the legal system is part of the problem, and even an honest and brave judge would have a very difficult time upholding a lawsuit like this considering the rules of the game. And BTW, the 9th Circuit is no longer progressive like it used to be, hasn’t been so for at least ten years.

    The problem, as Mark points out above, is the immoral/unevolved human attitude toward life. Humans have prioritized the material world and the ego instead of prioritizing life, empathy, and wisdom. This problem dates from at least the beginning of agriculture, and if we don’t fix it the most we can do is buy a little time before humans complete their destruction of most life on Earth, including ecosystems.

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