Law professor writes about landmark climate change lawsuit

Climate change protester

University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood recently wrote an article for The Conversation on a major climate lawsuit involving 21 young adults and the president.

In the article, Wood discusses the importance of the lawsuit, also known as Juliana v. U.S. or just the Juliana case, as well as what makes it different from others.

“As environmental law professors, we have written about this remarkable case and are teaching our students about it,” Wood writes. “This case positions the climate crisis squarely in the realm of fundamental civil rights jurisprudence, where we believe it belongs.”

Filed by the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust, the lawsuit was brought on behalf of 21 young plaintiffs ranging from ages 11 to 22. It focuses on the idea that current U.S. energy policies are unconstitutional and dangerous because of overwhelming data pointing to their long-term harm to the environment.

“In the Juliana case, youth plaintiffs are asserting well-established rights under the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses to personal security, family autonomy, and property,” the article says. “They contend that the government’s fossil fuel policies jeopardize human life, private property, and civilization itself.”

According to the article, the lawsuit originally targeted the Obama administration, but after the election in 2017 the case was adapted to put the Trump administration in the hot seat.

Wood concludes the article by stressing the global relevance of the case and its results.

The article was published by The Conversation on Oct. 23 and has since been picked up by publications such as National Geographic and The Atlantic.

To read the full article, see “Why a Group of Kids Is Suing the Federal Government Over Climate Change.”