A Nobel-Winning Economist is Aiding a Major Climate Lawsuit. Whatever.

But only the power of the vote will bring about climate justice.

A lesson to teach your children: never get all up and excited about something that could lead to profound disappointment later. Sadly, it appears that some adults have failed to learn this lesson:

One of the world’s top economists has written an expert court report that forcefully supports a group of children and young adults who have sued the federal government for failing to act on climate change.

Joseph Stiglitz, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics in 2001 and has written extensively about environmental economics and climate change, makes an economic case that the costs of maintaining a fossil fuel-based economy are “incalculable,” while transitioning to a lower-carbon system will cost far less.

The government, he writes, should move “with all deliberate speed” toward alternative energy sources.

Stiglitz has submitted briefs for Supreme Court cases—and normally charges $2,000 an hour for legal advice, the report says—but he wrote this 50-page report pro bono at the request of the attorneys representing the children. It was filed in federal district court in Oregon on June 28.

He is one of 18 expert witnesses planning to testify in the case, scheduled for trial later this year, the children’s lawyers said.

Sadly, considering the US judiciary’s scorn for climate activists, Stiglitz’s testimony and five bucks will get you a footlong at Subway.

It is inevitable that the federal judiciary—influenced and intimidated by the power of the fossil-fuel industry—will kill this lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) dead. The Trump Justice Department is doing all that it can to make sure rigor mortis sets in quickly:

The Trump administration is again trying a last-ditch effort to short-circuit the landmark kids climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, that has been ordered to trial this October. Attorneys for the Department of Justice filed a second writ of mandamus request last week, a long-shot motion to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and say they will appeal to the Supreme Court if the request is not granted.

The government also filed an emergency motion to halt discovery pending the outcome of this request, demanded a ruling by [this] Monday or they will have “little choice but to seek further relief from the Supreme Court.”

The motions are the latest in a long string of attempts by the federal government to stop the suit.

Juliana v. United States was originally filed in August 2015 by 21 young plaintiffs from across the country who allege that by encouraging and promoting fossil fuel development, the federal government is contributing to climate change, is violating the public trust doctrine and is denying their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.

The case, currently scheduled for trial on Oct. 29 in Eugene, Ore., is the first in which a U.S. court has recognized the constitutional right to a safe climate…

The government contends that the appeals court said it could continue to “raise and litigate any legal objections they have,” including filing for further mandamus relief and motions to challenge discovery. They also say the court indicated plaintiffs should narrow the focus of the case.

In the latest petition, government attorneys allege the district court has not narrowed the young plaintiffs’ discovery requests. They also contend they’ve followed the court’s earlier ruling by filing additional motions to limit discovery, postpone trial or dismiss the case.

The U.S. District Court has approved none of those requests, and the government said that proves their only avenue to relief is filing second mandamus petition.

Does anyone doubt that if the Ninth Circuit allows the case to move forward, the Trump administration will appeal to the US Supreme Court, which will contrive some way to snuff out this case? Even if Brett Kavanaugh is not confirmed before October 29, the odds are strong that this case is doomed.

The sad and hard reality is that the entire purpose of the long Republican effort to move the courts as far to the right as possible—the entire purpose of the Federalist Society—is ultimately to ensure that public-interest lawsuits such as Juliana v. United States don’t have a chance in hell of concluding with a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. The young adults who filed this lawsuit want the federal courts to rule that they, and all American citizens, have the Constitutional right to a healthy environment. Inherent in such a ruling would be a determination that domestically operating fossil-fuel companies are acting in an unconstitutional manner. Do you think these plaintiffs have a chance of ultimately obtaining such a ruling from the Roberts court? I have a better chance of getting married to Jennifer Lawrence.

The federal judiciary has made it clear that it is uninterested in hearing requests for justice from climate activists. Right-wing federal judges, like the late Justice Antonin Scalia (read his appalling dissent in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency), think human-caused climate change is much ado about nothing. Less reactionary federal judges, like the Clinton appointee who recently dismissed the lawsuit Oakland and San Francisco filed against the carbon cartel to recoup the losses both cities have suffered from the industry’s emissions, are apparently scared to death, not wholly unjustifiably, of being crucified by right-wing media figures and Republican politicians if they make rulings against Big Oil. (State-level judges are also presumably intimidated by the fossil-fuel industry, which is why the lawsuit Rhode Island has filed in state court against the carbon cartel is also likely to be dismissed.)

The courts have abandoned climate hawks, and will not come to their aid. Only the power of the vote will bring about climate justice. As the plaintiffs in Juliana will soon learn, there is literally no other option.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.