Juliana v. United States plaintiffs are put on hold by the Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsThe youth-led climate suit Juliana v. United States has been temporarily halted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

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By Karen Savage

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals once again postponed the landmark constitutional climate case, Juliana v. United States, on Thursday, granting a motion by the Trump administration for a temporary stay of District Court proceedings.

Despite halting the trial while it considers the government’s latest appeal, the Ninth Circuit ordered trial preparations to continue. In a separate conference later in the day, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken said she will quickly get the case back on the court schedule if the stay is lifted.

“The Court told us to continue getting our work done for trial so that we are all ready when the Ninth Circuit rules. That’s exactly what we will do. And our briefs to the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit on mandamus will show that there is no basis to grant the Government’s request of an appeal before final judgment,” said Julia Olson, co-counsel for the 21 young plaintiffs.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling came in response to a fourth petition for a writ of mandamus filed by the government on Monday. It is the latest in a continuing effort by the Trump administration to sidetrack the case, which was first filed in 2015. Thursday’s ruling grants a temporary stay until that petition can be considered. The Ninth Circuit has already turned down three previous petitions for mandamus, a rarely used legal mechanism in which a higher court is asked to overrule a lower court before a trial or verdict.

The Ninth Circuit also said that the young plaintiffs and the District Court must file a response to the government’s petition within 15 days. The government will then have five days to respond. The parties must also file a joint report on the status of discovery and any relevant pretrial issues within 15 days.

The young plaintiffs assert that the U.S. Government is depriving their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by creating a national energy system based on climate-changing fossil fuels. They are asking the federal government to implement a science-based plan to curb climate change.

“Given the urgency of climate change, we hope the Ninth Circuit will recognize the importance to these young Americans of having a prompt trial date,” said Philip Gregory, co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

“We will continue to move the case forward by completing discovery and responding to the various petitions filed by the Trump administration. We are pleased this stay is only temporary. We want to commence presenting the climate science in court as soon as possible.”