Justice Department Will Pursue Mandamus to Terminate Juliana Litigation (Once More)

The Department of Justice is not acquiescing to Judge Ann Aiken’s efforts to keep Juliana v. U.S., the so-called “kids climate case,” on life support. In a new filing the Department has asked Judge Aiken for a stay of the litigation so that the Department may file a writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit seeking to have the case dismissed or, in the alternative, to allow interlocutory review.

As I noted here, Judge Aiken denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss in December. This ruling was bad enough. What was worse–indeed, astounding–was her denial of the federal government’s request that she certify the case for interlocutory review and failure to provide any explanation (let alone justification) for the denial. This was a reckless act of judicial defiance as we have seen from any district court in the past three years.

From the DOJ filing:

The question now is how Judge Aiken will respond. From the start of this litigation she has shown herself quite sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ cause, embracing their extravagant legal theories and resisting the federal government’s procedural defenses. Now, however, she is directly contravening controlling legal authority about this very case.

According to the docket, the plaintiffs will be responding to the federal government’s motion this week. Then Judge Aiken faces a choice: Grant the stay and allow the Ninth Circuit to consider the writ of mandamus, or refuse and force the Justice Department to proceed on an emergency basis.

As has been clear for some time, the question is not so much whether this litigation will end, but how it ends, and whether Judge Aiken’s shenanigans produce rulings that hamper other climate change litigation.

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For those interested, here are my prior posts on the Juliana litigation:

  • “Is Kids Climate Case Coming to an End?” Nov. 26, 2018.
  • “Ninth Circuit Dismisses Kids Climate Case for Lack of Standing (Updated),” Jan. 17, 2020.
  • “Kids Climate Plaintiffs to Seek Rehearing En Banc,” Jan. 20, 2020.
  • “Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for En Banc Rehearing in Kids Climate Case,” Feb. 10, 2021.
  • “Will the Justice Department Settle a Case the Ninth Circuit Already Dismissed?” May 26, 2021.
  • “States Seek to Intervene to Prevent Settlement in Kids Climate Case Ninth Circuit Already Ordered Dismissed,” June 9, 2021.
  • “Blue States File Brief Encouraging District Court to Consider Juliana Settlement,” July 7, 2021.
  • “Juliana Plaintiffs Opt Against Filing Cert Petition in Kids Climate Case,” July 13, 2021.
  • “District Court Judge Revives Kids Climate Case,” June 1, 2023.
  • “The Next Kids Climate Case: Genesis B. v. EPA,” Dec. 15, 2023.
  • “Federal Court Again Refuses to Dismiss Juliana Climate Case,” Jan. 2, 2024.