WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has temporarily halted a landmark climate change lawsuit that was scheduled to move forward next week in a federal district court in Oregon.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of young activists alleges the federal government knowingly violated their constitutional right to life, liberty and property through environmental policies that caused and worsened the effects of climate change.
The trial was set to begin Oct. 29.
On Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts issued an order on behalf of the Supreme Court that halted the trial pending a response from the plaintiffs to specific issues raised by the Justice Department. The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States have until Wednesday to file their response.
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2015, is seeking a court order that would require the government to develop a national climate policy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, halting fossil fuel production and creating a “climate system capable of sustaining human life.”
The plaintiffs allege the government knew for decades that carbon emissions were endangering the planet yet continued to allow the production of fossil fuels, creating a risk to future generations.
The government has tried repeatedly to dismiss the case, arguing that U.S. environmental policies should be decided through the political process, not mandated from the bench.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the case can move forward with its Oct. 29 court date after receiving the response.