By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to put the brakes on a lawsuit filed by young activists who have accused the U.S. government of ignoring the perils of climate change.
In the lawsuit, 21 activists, ages 11 to 22, said federal officials violated their rights to due process under the U.S. Constitution by failing to adequately address carbon pollution such as emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 against former President Barack Obama and government agencies in a federal court in Oregon. In a 2016 ruling, a judge allowed the case to proceed, prompting the government to appeal. The Trump administration, inheriting the case, had asked for the lawsuit to be thrown out or put on hold.
The brief unsigned order said the Trump administration’s request was premature. The court did, however, note that the claims made in the ambitious lawsuit are “striking” and the question of whether they can be considered by a jury “presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion.”
As such, the lower court should take those concerns into account in handling the case, the order said.
The high court’s move followed a July 20 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to throw out the lawsuit.
The high court’s action in the case could be the last official act for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced last month he would retire effective on Tuesday. Trump has nominated conservative U.S. appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)