Climate Change

Juliana Plaintiffs Opt Against Filing Cert Petition in Kids Climate Case

Without the prospect of Supreme Court review, does the district court still have jurisdiction to consider a settlement?


The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, the so-called "Kids Climate Case," have opted to forego filing a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court, according to this Climatewire report. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the case dismissed in January 2020, and the court denied the plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc. While appealling the Ninth Circuit's judgment would prolong the case, it also risked a broad adverse ruling from a Supreme Court unlikely to be very sympathetic to the plaintiffs' aggressive (some would even say outlandish) claims and legal theories.

Now that there is no longer any prospect of Supreme Court review, it would seem that the case has come to an end, but has it? That's not so clear.

As I noted here, the plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their complaint in March. Although the Department of Justice objected, including on the grounds that the district court lacks the jurisdiction to consider the filing, the district court scheduled oral argument on the motion and (perhaps more questionably) ordered the parties to conduct settlement negotiations. These orders prompted responsive filings by Red and Blue state AGs, and Judge Aiken heard argument on the plaintiffs' motion to amend on June 25, but no order has yet issued.

As I understand it, the district court's jurisdiction to continue to oversee proceedings in this case was dependent upon the potential of further appellate review. That is, the district court was not obligated to follow the Ninth Circuit's instruction to dismiss the case so long as it was possible for the plaintiffs to seek (and potentially obtain) further appellate review of that order. But now that we have reached the deadline for a cert petition, and no such petition was filed, it would seem to me that time is up, and Judge Aiken no longer has any authority to consider additional proceedings. I suppose we will soon see whether Judge Aiken sees things the same way.

NEXT: 4th Cir. Panel Affirms Second Amendment Rights of 18-to-20-Year-Olds

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  1. Ohio has a Writ of Prohibition where a party may seek an immediate court of appeals ruling that a lower court completely lacks jurisdiction.

    Any federal counterpart?

    1. Mandamus. But no court will grant mandamus under those circumstances, because it only is supposed to issue when there’s no adequate remedy at law. Moving to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is an adequate remedy.

      1. “Moving to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is an adequate remedy.”

        How can that be an adequate remedy when the Circuit court has already ordered the district court to dismiss the case but the district court is refusing to do so?

        1. I think first a motion to dismiss.
          If it’s not dismissed a Motion for Mandamus, possibly to the Appeals court.

          1. It has been a long time since Civ Pro, but wouldn’t you appeal the denial of the motion to dismiss?

            1. Which as I understand it already happened and the Circuit court remanded with an instruction to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

  2. What are the damages when climate change makes the weather better?? Texas and the southeast aren’t a hellhole this summer!?! They could have played the All Star game in Atlanta without everyone getting heat stroke!

  3. If the judge does not dismiss what is the next step?
    Another appeal?
    A motion to dismiss to the trial court?

  4. Just as a question, say this were not a doomed case but one where amending the complaint would actually fix the deficiency. Shouldn’t a plaintiff normally get that chance?

    Given their argument I don’t see a lot of difference between granting the petition to amend and their filing whatever amended petition they have and filing that amended petition as a new case. Even if the original plaintiffs would be barred from filing I doubt the lawyers would have trouble finding a new name to slap on the papers.

  5. It’s been freezing at night on the East Coast. These children are being misled and exploited by adult political operatives. For their welfare and for their protection, they should be removed and placed in Republican foster homes.

  6. This idiotic lawsuit reminds me of an old Willy ‘n Ethyl cartoon, where Willy is sitting in the doctor’s exam room, and the doctor is explaining, “Well, the operation’s chance of success is very small, but if it succeeds, you’ll have a wingspan of over 60 feet!”

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