The Trump administration is once again asking the Supreme Court to halt a case brought by a group of young Americans claiming that the federal government needs to do more to confront climate change.
Justice Department attorneys filed their motion with the high court on Thursday, less than two weeks before a landmark trial is set to begin in federal court in Oregon.
As part of a series of last-ditch efforts, government attorneys are also renewing their calls for both the trial court and the San Francisco-based Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to stop the case while the original judge considers their motion to delay the trial.
“Absent relief from this court, the government imminently will be forced to participate in a 50-day trial that would violate bedrock requirements for agency decisionmaking and judicial review imposed by the [Administrative Procedure Act] and the separation of powers,” government attorneys wrote to the Supreme Court, asking for a rare “writ of mandamus” to stop the proceedings.
“Moreover, in contrast to the obvious harms to the government, respondents can make no credible claim of imminent, irreparable harm,” the lawyers representing the administration argued.
“Their alleged injuries stem for the cumulative effects of CO2 emissions from every source in the world over decades; whatever additions to the global atmosphere that could somehow be attributed to the government over the time it takes to resolve the pending petition are plainly de minimis.”
The Supreme Court previously rejected a plea in July from the Trump administration to stop the case. Still, the court called the breadth of the claims in the case “striking” and said “the justiciability of those claims presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion.”
The case was filed by 21 children and young adults in 2015 with the assistance of climate activist and scientist James Hansen. They argue that the federal government is depriving them of their constitutional rights by not working to stop catastrophic climate change.
The government has argued that the parties are trying to get the judicial branch to direct climate policy, which isn’t within that branch’s purview.