Wyden, Schakowsky Lead 41 Colleagues to File Court Brief Supporting National Climate Rights Lawsuit

Washington, D.C.U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) led 41 colleagues in filing a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to support the Juliana v. United States youth plaintiffs – 11 of whom are Oregonians. Juliana v. United States is a landmark lawsuit brought by 21 young Americans against the U.S. Government for contributing to the climate crisis. The lawmakers urged the Ninth Circuit to grant these young plaintiffs’ request for en banc review, in which a full panel of judges would reconsider their lawsuit, so they can proceed to trial and stop the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) effort to silence them.

No other case in history has faced this level of government opposition. Since these youth plaintiffs filed their case in 2015, the DOJ has attempted 22 times across three presidential administrations to throw out Juliana, including filing an unprecedented seven requests for a writ of mandamus. On May 1, 2024, a panel of three Trump-appointed judges in the Ninth Circuit granted the DOJ’s unprecedented seventh petition for writ of mandamus to compel the district court to dismiss the case. The Ninth Circuit’s decision to green light the DOJ’s request for writ of mandamus has blocked these young Americans from being heard and having their day in court.

In their brief to the Ninth Circuit, the lawmakers wrote, “These Youth Plaintiffs are among the youngest generation and most vulnerable citizens of our country. Since youth cannot vote, they depend upon each branch of government to act in their best interests when exercising authority. Sadly, at this time, each branch is betraying the intergenerational trust bestowed upon them for ‘our Posterity’ in the face of the climate crisis.”

The executive branch’s duty is to not only enforce the law but also preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. Instead of using unprecedented procedural tactics to avoid defending Juliana, the lawmakers emphasized that the executive branch is bound by the U.S. Constitution to confront its overwhelming record of contributions to the climate crisis that are injuring these plaintiffs. These youth spent nine years of their lives seeking the right to life, liberty, property, and equal protection under the law, including a clean and livable environment for generations to come.

The lawmakers continued, “We respectfully ask the Court to grant en banc review of the panel’s May 1, 2024 Order and allow these Youth Plaintiffs an opportunity to present their claims and evidence, to secure their constitutional rights and their future at trial,” the lawmakers concluded.”

Wyden and Schakowsky were joined by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.),Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), Jesús García (D-Ill.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ill.), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.), Pramila Jayapal of (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawai’i), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

“After nine years of delay, the courthouse doors are still closed to us,” said Juliana, plaintiff Isaac V. “The congressional offices that I met with and signed the amicus brief understand the urgency of the climate crisis youth are facing. We’re grateful they’re using their voices to weigh in on the importance of our rights to access justice and to a safe climate.” 

The court filing text is here.