Merkley, Schakowsky Lead Colleagues to File Court Brief Supporting Landmark Youth Climate Lawsuit

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) today led their colleagues in filing a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to support the Juliana v. Estados Unidos youth plaintiffs, 11 of whom are Oregonians from Eugene, Beaverton, Bend, Roseburg, and Oakland in Douglas County. The lawmakers asked the Court to allow the plaintiffs’ historic climate lawsuit to proceed to trial.

“…extreme cold and heat waves, flooding and droughts and horrific wildfires—climate change’s scourge—are no longer a potential threat. They are the current reality and present a substantial crisis. As the climate crisis worsens, our Nation’s youth and future generations will suffer disproportionately from these impacts. For decades, the Defendants have known the risks of fossil fuel use and increasing carbon dioxide emissions and have failed to take action to curb those risks. Instead, they continue to take affirmative actions to compound those risks,” the lawmakers wrote in their brief.

“Our Nation’s youth, the group most impacted by the climate crisis, is powerless to elect officials and has no voice in the political branches. Because these branches, unaccountable to the Nation’s youth, have failed in their responsibility to curtail the effects of the climate crisis, the Court must step in and assess the constitutionality of the conduct of its coequal branches and protect these children’s rights to life, liberty, and property,” los legisladores continuaron.

“[We] support the protection of the Youth Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights under the Constitution. We respectfully ask the Court to deny the [government’s petition]. Such action by this Court would grant these Youth Plaintiffs an opportunity to present their evidence, to secure their constitutional rights, and to save their Nation,” the lawmakers concluded.

In the brief, the lawmakers also noted the executive branch – across three presidential administrations – has consistently sought to prevent the youth plaintiffs from having their day in court by filing seven petitions, which can delay court proceedings as their litigated, often for years. Sen. Merkley and Rep. Schakowsky were also joined by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Cori Bush (D-MO-01), André Carson (D-IN-07), Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Summer Lee (D-PA-12), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Delia C. Ramirez (D-IL-03), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-12), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24) in filing their brief.

The full text of the lawmakers’ court filing can be found aquí.