The LWVWA Submits Amicus Brief in Youth Climate Case

02 Nov 2021 2:35 PM | Anonymous

In June of this year, the LWV of Washington submitted an amicus curiae brief in Aji P., et al. v. State of Washington, et al. (“youth climate case”) before the Washington Supreme Court. In early October, the Court declined to hear the case. The League was also denied review of this ruling in the case. You can read both the LWVWA amicus curiae brief and the motion for leave to file brief. 

The League argued that youth are currently experiencing adverse health, safety, and economic impacts from increased greenhouse gasses in Washington. These impacts—including increased temperatures, droughts, wildfires, violent storms, and heat waves as well as rising sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns, and other adverse health risks—are occurring in real-time and will continue to affect current and future generations. Because most of them are minors, the youth are unable to vote and therefore protect their fundamental rights through the political process. The youth also lack economic power, since many are too young to own property or earn wages, putting them at yet another disadvantage because the cost of responding to climate impacts and influencing the energy system is extremely high. Thus, the youth’s only form of redress is through the judiciary, which has the responsibility to protect individuals’ fundamental rights. 

Chief Justice Steven González, in his dissent, wrote:  

The League of Women Voters of Washington (League) argues eloquently that we should not close the courthouse doors especially where the actions of the government “infringe[] upon the fundamental rights of individuals who cannot yet vote.” Amicus Curiae Br. of the League Amicus Br. at 1As the League properly notes, it is the “judiciary’s duty to safeguard the individual rights enshrined in the constitution,” and “[g]iven the urgency of climate change and the disproportionate harms children will suffer from it, [this] Court must act now to safeguard the Youth’s constitutional rights.” Id. at 10. 

The League will continue to work in many ways to address climate change. 

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