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21 Kids vs The President

March 21st, 2017

Photo courtesy: Robin Loznak

Twenty one kids, between the ages of nine and 21, are suing the federal government arguing that they have a constitutional right to a healthy climate system. It’s the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States. And some are calling it potentially the biggest case on the planet .

The kids bringing the suit, referred to legally as plaintiffs,  claim that the federal government is violating their rights by promoting fossil fuel production (i.e. coal, oil, and natural gas), which is linked to greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to pollution and global warming.  The kids claim that this violates their right to life, liberty and property under the constitution.

They’re also arguing a law called the Public Trust Doctrine which basically says that public lands belong to citizens and that the government is entrusted with taking care of the land for the benefit of the people for current and future generations. The kids claim the government isn’t doing its job.

Judge Ann Aiken, who has made a decision on this case allowing it to continue, said: “I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” She continued,  “Just as marriage is the foundation of the family, a stable climate system is quite literally the foundation of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.”

Some experts are surprised the lawsuit has gotten as far as it has. The kids brought the lawsuit through an organization called Our Children’s Trust originally while President Obama was in office. Now it’s on President Trump’s plate.

Supporters of this lawsuit believe it’s more urgent than ever because President Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has said he doesn’t believe humans contribute meaningfully to climate change. He also said that carbon dioxide isn’t a primary contributor to global warming. Science says it is.

You can meet the youth plaintiffs at Our Children’s Trust here.

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