Julia Olson and Phil Gregory, lawyers in the kids climate case, won an expedited schedule from the Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsAttorneys Julia Olson and Phil Gregory successfully argued to the Ninth Circuit that the government's appeal of their landmark kids climate case should proceed quickly. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

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By Karen Savage

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Trump administration until Feb. 1 to file its opening brief in its attempt to short-circuit the the landmark constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, launching an expedited schedule to consider the government’s extraordinary appeal. The Ninth Circuit judges denied a request by the administration to delay proceedings due to the government shutdown.

The ruling, handed down by a three-judge panel on Monday, sets in motion a schedule on the interlocutory appeal, which the court agreed to hear late last month. The schedule requires the young plaintiffs to respond by February 22, with a hearing to be scheduled at the Ninth Circuit’s earliest available date.

The judges also indicated that future requests for extensions of time by the government would likely be denied.

“This schedule is a ray of light for the plaintiffs,” said Julia Olson, co-counsel for the young plaintiffs. “Time is the enemy as carbon dioxide builds in our atmosphere every day threatening the personal security and lives of these young people. We will continue to press forward on all fronts as quickly as possible. We’re glad the Ninth Circuit recognizes the urgency this case presents.”

Generally, interlocutory appeals—a rarely granted appeal in which a higher court agrees to review a case before trial—consider certain aspects of a case while allowing other issues to proceed. The young plaintiffs in the case, 21 young people from around the country, have asked District Court Judge Ann Aiken to clarify how the case will move forward while the Ninth Circuit considers its appeal. They argue that they should be allowed to continue the discovery process and other pre-trial proceedings.

The case has survived numerous attempts by the government to dismiss it since it was originally originally filed in 2015. The plaintiffs argue that the federal government is violating their Constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by promoting an energy system that exacerbates climate change. They also say the government is failing to protect essential public trust resources and are asking for a science-based program to reduce carbon emissions and protect the climate for future generations.

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