Climate Change

Blue States File Brief Encouraging District Court to Consider Juliana Settlement

"Pay no attention to those states claiming you lack jurisdiction to approve a settlement."


In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered Juliana v. U.S., aka the "kids climate case," dismissed, yet the district court's ongoing proceedings continue to attract legal filings. Most recently, six state attorneys general filed an amicus brief  urging Judge Aiken to disregard the previously filed brief by eighteen other state AGs arguing that Aiken lacks jurisdiction to approve a settlement.

Despite the Ninth Circuit's order, the plaintiffs filed a motion in March seeking to amend their complaint so as to establish Article III standing. The district court held oral argument on this motion last month. Judge Aiken also ordered the parties to attend a settlement conference even though (as DOJ argued) the court lacks jurisdiction for either.

In order to forestall a potential collusive settlement, under which the federal government agreed to measures the district cort lacks jurisdiction to impose, eighteen state AGs filed a brief challenging the court's jurisdiction (the Red State brief). The Biden Administration responded with a brief on June 22 arguing the states should be disregarded and denied the right to intervene. A few days later, on June 25, Judge Aiken heard argument on the plaintiffs' motion to amend and (at least according to news reports) appeared open to approving the motion.

The latest brief (the Blue State brief) challenges the Red State brief's claim that there is a risk of collusive settlement that may harm the public interest. According to the Blue State brief "the public benefits when the federal government is able to exercise its lawful rulemaking authority and discretion to resolve claims brought by States and state residents" and "States have a broad and unique range of interests in federal action to combat the wide-ranging effects of climate change" that were not adequately noted in the Red State brief.

Interestingly enough, the Blue State brief fails to address either the question of whether the Red States may intervene as of right or the underlying question of whether the district court has jurisdiction to approve a settlement given the Ninth Circuit's conclusion that the plaintiffs lack Article III standing. Instead, it argues that "when assessing the merits of proposed intervenors' intervention motion, this Court should decline to give weight to their claims of collusive litigation tactics and should consider the broader landscape of state interests implicated by this suit."

On potential relevance, the (extended) deadline for submission of a petition for certiorari in Juliana v. U.S. is next week.

NEXT: Hawaii Bill Legalizing Stun Guns Just Became Law Today, Will Become Effective Jan. 1

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The fact that the case is not already dismissed speaks volumes. The district judge should be impeached.

    1. There will be no impeachment of totally biased judges, and agents of the Chinese Commie Party. They should be visited.

  2. Suppose the judge, on his own time, mediated some sort of agreement between Juliana and the US, and let’s ignore the possibility that he might use court computers to file this private agreement in.

    How would such an agreement affect the Red States? Would it impose any legal obligations on them or their citizens? What reason would they have to care?

    If it purported to impose any legal obligations on them, couldn’t the Red States sue at the time they were imposed, and at that time argue that this is simply a privately mediated agreement between parties and the fact that it is on court stationary and may contain a judge’s personal advisory opinions does not in any way make it a judicial document or give it any force of law binding on any non-party?

    It seems to me that if there is no case or controversy, there is also no basis for intervention. There is nothing to intervene in. Why should the Red States care if the parties reach some sort of private agreement, create some sort of document, and style it a “settlement” of a “case”?

  3. If the judge tries to enforce it, couldn’t the Red States immediately appeal, or even file for a writ of mandamus to get the judge to stop?

    I’m wondering if, by intervening in this non-case at this time rather than ignoring it, the Red States risk themselves creating an actual case supporting enforcible orders, the very thing they don’t want.

    1. I suppose there's some chance of that. But there's also the chance that failing to intervene could result in an enforceable order, (Enforceable by the administration, if not the courts.) and I think it's a rather greater chance.

      You have to be awfully confident they're going to fail, if you're going to not lift a finger when your opponents take an adverse action against you.

  4. Bunch of men flapping their gums hoping to funnel billions into their pockets, nothing more.


  5. Just like one Congress cannot tie the hands of a future Congress, any settlement by one president's administration that purports to tie the hands of future administrations should be void ab initio without APA notice-and-comment procedures.

  6. Can I file a suit against the district where I went to elementary and high school, because they only had right-handed school desks, which discriminated against me as a left-handed person? I'm sure it caused developmental difficulties and emotional turmoil.

Please to post comments