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Juliana v. US:  Plaintiffs Ask the Appeals Court to Enjoin the Federal Government

 Our Childrens Trust (Credit: Our Childrens Trust) Click to Enlarge.

After I posted last week’s article Juliana v. US:  For Children of All Ages/The Last Hurrah? the plaintiffs filed an Urgent Motion For a Preliminary Injunction.  The motion asks the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to enjoin the federal government from authorizing the following activities through leases, permits, or other federal approvals:

  1. mining or extraction of coal on Federal Public Lands;
  2. offshore oil and gas exploration, development, or extraction on the Outer Continental Shelf;
  3. development of new fossil fuel infrastructure, in the absence of a national plan that ensures the above-denoted authorizations are consistent with preventing further danger to these young Plaintiffs.

The motion alleges much of what their original petition accused the federal government of doing in contravention of the plaintiffs’ rights to a habitable environment.  The youthful plaintiffs in this instance are not asking the Court to enjoin the government from engaging in the enumerated activities permanently—but for a time that coincides with the Court’s decision on the government’s interlocutory appeal.

In lay terms, the plaintiffs are pushing back on the government’s continued efforts to prevent the case from going to trial.  The Administration’s strategy these days is to go around trial and appellate court rulings by directly seeking relief from an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

The strategy is being put into play by the US Solicitor General, who is the Administration’s Supreme Court litigator.  The Solicitor General is appointed by the President with the consent of Congress and is the fourth highest position in the Department of Justice.  The current Solicitor General is Noel Francisco.

The maneuver is unusual, although not improper from a legal perspective.  In the written response to an earlier request of the High Court to dismiss the case, Juliana’s attorneys stated:

A stay of trial in the district court will disrupt the integrity of the judiciary’s role as a check on the political branches and will irreparably harm these children.  The independence of the judiciary, free from pressure by the political branches, is instrumental in preserving our democratic institutions and the people’s respect for them.”

Juliana is not the only case in which the Administration has sought a summary dismissal.  The tactic has been used in immigration cases as well.  Like so many other things these days, opinions vary on the basis of party, with Republicans generally in favor and Democrats opposed.

Read more at Juliana v. US:  Plaintiffs Ask the Appeals Court to Enjoin the Federal Government