Juliana v. United States plaintiffs prepare for trial as the Trump administration continues to get the case halted.The Justice Department continues its attempt to stop the upcoming trail in Juliana v. United States, the landmark kids climate case. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

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By Karen Savage

Just three weeks before trial in the landmark youth-led climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, the Trump administration has filed another motion to stay the discovery process and trial.

The administration is continuing its persistent efforts to thwart the case and said it intends to use more legal maneuvers before trial. The latest motion was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, where the trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29. It asked for a stay until U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken rules on two motions to dismiss the suit that were heard in July. The government said it would also file a third request for an extraordinary writ of mandamus—despite the first two being rejected by the Ninth Circuit—or may again petition the Supreme Court, which has already declined to stop the case.

Julia Olson, co-counsel for youth plaintiffs, said she is confident the court will reject the administration’s latest motion.

“This redundant motion by the Department of Justice, with no new grounds for stopping the trial, is nothing more than a show of fear,” Olson said. “We trust that the entire federal judiciary will once again reject this administration’s attempt to thwart justice and put itself above the federal rules of civil and appellate procedure.”

The case was originally filed in August 2015 by 21 young plaintiffs who allege that by encouraging and promoting fossil fuel development, the federal government is exacerbating climate change, violating the public trust doctrine and denying their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.

It is the first case in which a U.S. court has recognized the constitutional right to a safe climate.

During a telephone status conference held Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin said little has changed since the government’s last motion and he declined to change any of the pre-trial deadlines set by Aiken.

“I would urge all the parties to understand that [the] trial day of October 29 is a firm trial date and will not be changed unless changed by order of an appellate court or the Supreme Court,” Coffin said.

“The fact that they’re going to such great lengths to avoid this trial shows how important it is, it shows that they know that what they’re doing is wrong,” said Jayden Foytlin, a 15-year-old plaintiff from Rayne, La.

“They don’t want to face the consequences of their actions.”