Kids Climate Case Stays Alive

Both the United States Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have repeatedly issued orders against Judge Ann Aiken’s decisions in Juliana v. United States for years. Colloquially known as the “kids climate case,” this is mostly the story of a meritless suit that is nonetheless valued by its backers as a protest case to produce news coverage.

In 2018, the Ninth Circuit remanded the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to dismiss this case. Last week, Judge Aiken chose not to just yet, instead issuing an order for settlement talks. One wonders if that’s a wink, wink and a nod, nod to the Biden administration to bypass Congress with some kind of settlement that creates a legal precedent mandating a policy that exceeds the scope of legislative authorization. How courts can operate like a House of Lords in our political system is something to ponder.

The administration does not appear to be taking the bait. They know the implications of what might happen were such a weak case to get to the same court that imposed the Major Questions Doctrine in West Virginia v EPA. Any policy based on the Oregon District Court’s action would eventually face higher courts. In the absence of forward momentum, I suspect both sides of this case appreciate the opportunity to keep the process alive for the publicity.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.