When 21 children and youth sued the federal government demanding that it halt policies that are destroying their Constitutional right to life and liberty, many legal commentators were skeptical that courts would give any legitimacy to such a claim. But after years of litigation, the federal district court in Oregon agreed to hear the Juliana case–in effect putting the government on trial for climate destruction. Now Congress is considering The Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery resolution supporting the principles underpinning the Juliana case. The Labor Network for Sustainability recently issued the following statement on why the Juliana case, and the legislation supporting it, are important for organized labor:
Two days after the election of Donald Trump as President, the youth plaintiffs in the Juliana 21 case won a federal court ruling that may be as important as the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing school segregation. The court found that “the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” A stable climate system is quite literally the foundation of society, “without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.”
A growing number of trade unions have been supporting the youth climate strikes, the Green New Deal and THRIVE programs, and other campaigns to create good jobs by protecting the climate. The Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery resolution supporting the principles underpinning the Juliana case.
The House resolution supporting the Juliana case provides an important additional opportunity for labor to build its alliance with young people who are fighting for a future for our country, our world, and our workers.
For background on the Juliana case and labor see “Juliana: Why Climate Rights Matter to Labor.”