Tribes, Civil Rights and Environmental Orgs Ask Washington Supreme Court docket to Take Up Youth Constitutional Local weather Change Case – YubaNet

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Fred. The T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, the League of Women Voters, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide are among the institutions that have filed Friend of the Court briefs in support of 13 young plaintiffs on trial to hear their constitutional climate change case, Aji P. v Washington State, by the Washington Supreme Court.

The youth are asking the Supreme Court to review a decision by the Washington Court of Appeals that plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to a healthy environment, even though that is the only right that Washington law has described as “fundamental and inalienable”. The panel decided that climate change is a global problem and that politicians have full powers to take measures that destroy the climate system.

“Courts around the world have recognized that climate change implies fundamental rights and enables young people to produce evidence of their fundamental rights claims, but Washington State has gone the other way and closed the court doors for these youth,” said Andrea Rodgers, senior Litigation Attorney at Our Children’s Trust representing the plaintiffs. “With our state facing the hottest temperatures we have ever seen, it is now up to the Washington Supreme Court to protect our children and hold the political branches responsible for making the emissions cuts they promised but failed to deliver. “

The lawsuit, filed in 2018, names the state, Governor Jay Inslee, and several state agencies as defendants. She claims that the defendants’ actions are aggravating the climate crisis and causing harm to the juvenile plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges that Washington violated the constitutional rights of the youngest generation to life, liberty, property and equal redress and undermined essential public trust resources by causing climate change. Despite recent legislative measures in support of the decarbonization of the state’s energy system, Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, highlighting the need for legal action in this crisis.

The League of Women Voters stated in its briefing that these youth “lack a voice in the political process; many cannot vote to protect their rights and lack the political power to influence Washington’s energy and transportation systems. Redress through the courts is their only way to uphold their fundamental rights. “

The plaintiffs are calling for a declaration of their fundamental rights to life, freedom and a healthy environment – and, if necessary, a government-drawn up plan to fully address the crisis.

“When the political branches violate constitutionally guaranteed rights, the judiciary has the duty and the power to act,” said the Korematsu Center’s letter. “Great damage occurs when courts shy away from this duty. As was the case with black children in 1954, the plaintiffs here need the courts to enforce their rights when other branches of government have violated their constitutional rights. “

Washington’s tribal governments, including the Swinomish Indian Community, said the Washington Court of Appeals decision “does not take into account tribal values ​​- thus excluding the values ​​of the indigenous people… The right to a livable climate – and the right to survive for it – is beyond question the way of life that has always been enjoyed – is of fundamental importance. “

Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest is grappling with triple-digit heat that the National Weather Service says “could rival some of the longest and most extreme heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest.” And heat waves like this one are one of the most prominent manifestations of man-made global warming, with studies showing that climate change makes them more likely to occur and increase their severity.

Aji P. v Washington State is one of several youth-led climate change lawsuits filed by Our Children’s Trust. Other state cases include Held vs. the State of Montana and Sagoonick vs. the State of Alaska. Our Children’s Trust also represents the juvenile plaintiffs behind the landmark Juliana constitutional climate lawsuit against the United States, filed by 21 young Americans and the youth-led environmental group Earth Guardians.

Our Children’s Trust is a not-for-profit public interest law firm providing strategic, campaign-based legal services to youths of diverse backgrounds to help secure their legal rights to a safe climate. We work to protect the earth’s climate system for present and future generations by representing young people in global legal efforts to secure their binding and enforceable legal claims to a healthy atmosphere and a stable climate based on the best available science. We support our youthful clients and strengthen their voices in front of the third level of government in a highly strategic legal campaign that includes targeted media, educational and public relations work to support the legal steps of the youth. Our legal work – guided by the constitution, public trust, human rights laws and natural laws – aims to ensure systemic and science-based climate recovery planning and remedial action at the federal, state and global levels.

Comments are closed.