The youth climate case plaintiffs face another round of government appealsThe kids climate case plaintiffs face another round of emergency appeals by the federal government to stop their case. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

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By Dana Drugmand

Despite continual rejections of its many appeals to stop the landmark youth climate case Juliana v. United States, the Trump administration is continuing its effort to thwart the trial. It filed a new set of appeals with both the U.S. District Court as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

Following a Supreme Court order Friday that lifted a temporary stay on the case, the federal government filed several repeat motions in the lower courts, including a fourth petition for a writ of mandamus to the Ninth Circuit, which just denied the last one on Friday.

The Department of Justice also filed a motion in District Court seeking permission to appeal its denials of previous motions as well as seeking a stay on the case. The latest mandamus request asks the Ninth Circuit Court to intervene should the District Court deny those motions.

The government has continually asked courts to halt the case, which alleges that the nation’s pro-fossil fuel energy agenda contributes to dangerous climate change and violates the young plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights. Since she ordered the case to trial in November 2016, District Court Judge Ann Aiken has repeatedly denied the government’s legal maneuvering to delay and dismiss the case, including an order last month denying motions for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment.

The government on Monday also filed a separate motion with the District Court requesting an immediate stay while Aiken reviews the motion to reconsider and while the Ninth Circuit reviews the mandamus petition.

That petition includes an “emergency” request for a stay on proceedings. Department of Justice attorneys say the court must act within 21 days to avoid irreparable harm to the government. According to the government’s motion, “the government respectfully requests emergency relief in this matter because it faces a trial that Plaintiffs seek to commence as early as ‘the latter part of the week of November 12’ (i.e., next week) and that is estimated to last approximately 50 trial days, or 10 full weeks.”

The Ninth Circuit denied the government’s emergency motion for a stay on Friday because the Supreme Court had already granted a temporary stay—a development that the Ninth Circuit judges said the government failed to notify them about.

When the Supreme Court lifted the stay, it said the government could still seek relief through the Ninth Circuit via mandamus petition, a course of action the government is now pursuing for the fourth time.

“Clearly the Trump administration is putting all of its resources behind keeping the climate science off the witness stand,” said Philip Gregory, co-counsel for youth plaintiffs.

“The question to ask is why is the Trump Administration so scared of 21 young plaintiffs? So scared that they claim these youth plaintiffs are causing the federal government ‘irreparable harm.’ What does the Trump Administration want to avoid allowing federal employees to testify about the state of climate change?”

Gregory said there is a status conference scheduled by the District Court on Thursday and he expects Aiken to set a new trial date then.