A line from a poem by E.E. Cummings rings in my ears. It goes like this: “only the children are apt to remember, and down they forget as up they grow.”
In 2015, 19 American children sued us all. Their lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the state of Oregon, is titled “Juliana v. United States.” The servants of the people, our servants, that we pay to protect us and guide us and to the extent they can get away with it, rule us are fighting this case with all their considerable might. On behalf of their corporate masters, they seek to prevent this case from actually going to trial, because if it goes to trial, our government, and to an unpredictable extent, our comfortable lifestyle will lose.
The Department of Justice has filed motion after motion seeking to have the Court toss the lawsuit, and their efforts to delay have twice made it to the Supreme Court. Despite the Conservative nature of a majority of the current court, the government has lost twice. The issue of whether to allow this trial to take place is now back before the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th District. The court heard arguments last June, but has yet to render a decision.
So what is the basis for all this fuss, and why would our children be suing their country, and why would we adult citizens be struggling so vigorously to prevent this lawsuit from proceeding to trial? These children claim that the government, through its actions that encourage climate change, are violating all children’s rights to life, liberty and property, and additionally are failing to protect public resources that belong to us all.
Their arguments are based on overwhelming scientific evidence, to the extent that the government is, in its arguments to date, essentially conceding the point, but saying that even if this is true, these are children for God’s sake and so have no standing before the law. And so again, I say “only the children are apt to remember, and down they forget as up they grow”. You can follow this proceeding on the website www.ourchildrenstrust.org/juliana-v-us and also find links to coverage by CBS on the news show ‘60 Minutes’ in their segment titled “Lawsuit that Could Put Climate Change on Trial”. Our friend Google will lead you to that segment, which will stream to your computer over the internet, and surely entertain you.
For some reason, our children find it offensive that you and I value our comfort in the now over their right to have a world with a livable climate when they are our age.