In a federal courthouse in Oregon on Tuesday, 21 youths and their supporters argued that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights.
“I feel like I have to go to court, because my little brother can’t speak for himself, he’s too little. But I can speak for him, and for everyone in my generation. It’s time we were heard. It’s time President Obama protects our future, and my little brother’s future.”
—Jayden Foytlin, 13-year-old plaintiff
With Big Oil behind it, the government, in turn, has sought to dismiss the case, which has been called “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now.”
The plaintiffs, currently aged 9-20, scored a win in April when U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin decided the case could proceed.
On Tuesday, the kids and their attorneys hoped that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken would agree.
As John D. Sutter wrote in his profile of plaintiffs’ attorney Julia Olson for CNN, the goal is to get Aiken, “a Bill Clinton appointee, to feel the weight of the court’s responsibility to do what other branches of government so far have failed to do: Create a national plan to get greenhouse gas emissions to levels that scientists consider safe.”