The climate case by 21 young people against the U.S. government has survived numerous attempts by the government to get it dismissed. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily paused district court proceedings in the federal lawsuit brought by 21 young plaintiffs against the U.S. government for not doing enough to stop climate change.

The stay was ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court pending its decision on a writ of mandamus and other pending motions. The case, Juliana v. United States, was filed in 2015 and has survived numerous efforts by the government to dismiss and derail the case.

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit gave attorneys for the plaintiffs 30 days to file an answer to the federal government’s petition for a writ of mandamus, which the Trump administration filed on June 9.

A writ of mandamus is a rare appeal granted only in extraordinary circumstances. In the appeal, the administration raised concerns regarding what it called an “onerous,” and “resource intensive” discovery process. The Ninth Circuit ordered the plaintiffs to provide an update on a host of discovery issues, including any anticipated disputes. District Court Judge Ann Aiken also has the option to respond.

“Our plaintiffs will demonstrate that they will be ready to go to trial on February 5, and the Trump administration’s allegations of undue burden of discovery are unfounded,” said Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs.

The young plaintiffs allege the federal government has failed to ensure a safe and livable climate for themselves, their families and future generations. To prevent further harm, the plaintiffs say the federal government must immediately implement a science-based plan to protect the climate for future generations.

So far, neither development has changed the plaintiffs’ approach.

Philip Gregory, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the stay is only temporary and right now affects only discovery.

“Plaintiffs are moving forward with serving their expert witness reports and preparing for trial,” said Gregory.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.  

The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 5 in Eugene, Ore., before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken.

Twenty-year-old plaintiff Alex Loznak, from Roseburg, Ore., said he is unfazed by the temporary stay.

“I’ve always known we’d get to a higher court sooner or later, so I’m not afraid of going to the Ninth Circuit,” said Loznak. “The same arguments that got us to the point we are at will prevail at the court of appeals. It’s a very strong case.”

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