Chief justice halts discovery, trial in youth climate lawsuit

Chief justice halts discovery, trial in youth climate lawsuit
© Greg Nash

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday temporarily halted discovery and the upcoming trial of a case brought by a group of young Americans claiming that the federal government needs to do more to confront climate change.

The landmark trial was set to begin in less than two weeks in federal court in Oregon.


The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to delay the case on Thursday, citing concerns about the case's effect on the separation of powers.

“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.

The administration had unsuccessfully attempted to delay it in July, arguing that the case could result in the judicial branch directing climate policy, which is outside of the established power of the branch.

The case was introduced by 21 young adults and children, along with climate scientist James Hansen in 2015. They claimed that the federal government is harming their constitutional rights by not working to stop catastrophic climate change.