In a recent opinion essay, Andrew Varcoe quoted my description of Juliana v. United States as possibly “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” Plaintiffs in Juliana have challenged the federal government’s active and significant contributions to climate change, seeking judicial articulation of a fundamental right—rooted in due process, equal protection and public trust principles—to a government that does not knowingly destabilize the climate system and thereby pose unprecedented threats to life everywhere on the planet.

Thus far, the Juliana plaintiffs have survived the government’s motions to dismiss and interlocutory appeal. At this point, the plaintiffs and the federal District Court judge, Ann Aiken in Oregon, stand ready to move the case to a prompt trial. The Department of Justice, on the other hand, has filed a mandamus petition, asking the Ninth Circuit to step in and short circuit ordinary procedures of discovery, trial and appeal.

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