The lawsuit brought forth by the 21 youth, Juliana v Gov., was scheduled to go to trial on October 29th in Eugene, Oregon. The youth and their legal team fought long and hard to reach this milestone to finally be given the chance to present their case and have their day in court.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration got a last minute temporary “stay” order from the Supreme Court to delay the trial.  This came after years of delays and a recent flurry of desperate legal motions by Trump Administration lawyers to delay the trial. Yet, that didn’t stop people from gathering in their communities at over 90 actions to show their support for the #TrialoftheCentury.

On Monday, October 29th, 1500 people rallied in Eugene, Oregon, in front of the courthouse where the trial was set to begin, to hear from the youth plaintiffs, their legal team, and dozens of local faith and community leaders about the importance of this case and its potential to define our climate legacy.

In a powerful show of solidarity, 500 students from every high school in Eugene and the University of Oregon walked out of their schools and marched together to join the rally. Serina Orsinger, a South Eugene High School student and walkout organizer said, “We walked out because we are honestly terrified for our future with the impending doom that is climate change. We are terrified, yet the YouthvGov case gives us hope that our futures and our children’s futures could still be saved. Many students, including myself were outraged by the Supreme Court’s stopping of the case.”

The spirited crowd stayed through periodic rain, and cheered when the clouds cleared into bursts of sunlight and patches of blue sky.

Sunbursts from morning rain clouds at at Federal Courthouse, Eugene, OR. Photo: David Solnit

 

The rally in Eugene was just one of over 90 actions held in solidarity with the plaintiffs of Juliana vs. US across the US–and several globally in Copenhagen and Uganda.

This banner, hand painted by Eugene 350, hung in the center of downtown Eugene for the weeks leading up. Photo: David Solnit

 

The #youthvgov case could be a game-changer in our struggles for climate protection. But to be have an impact this lawsuit needs the support of a massive, people-powered movement to make sure the young plaintiffs get their day in court and — and if they win (as was the case in Holland in 2015), enforce the ruling.

The Juliana vs. US case is based on a powerful, paradigm-shifting idea:  that our government’s duty is to protect the water, land, and atmosphere as a “public trust” — and if they don’t, we have the legal right and responsibility to hold them accountable for illegal betrayal of their duty and take actions to protect the public trust ourselves.

Activists gather at the Trial of the Century solidarity rally held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 

In a surprise move, The United States Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s application for a judicial stay, allowing the blocked lawsuit to proceed. The Juliana v. United States lawsuit is back on track for trial! This may not have been possible without the strong show of public support from people across the country.

Activists stand on the steps of the Eugene courthouse as the sun came out from behind the clouds. Photo: David Solnit

 

As an arts organizer working with 350.org, it has been an inspiring year partnering on arts organizing with the good folks from Our Children’s Trust, together with 350 Eugene and the Bay Area #YouthvGov support group.

These rallies were the powerful step in a long campaign to have the backs of these youth plaintiffs and their legal team to help them push courts and in our communities for protection of our–and the next generations– public trust.

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