Courts & Litigation

The Lawfare Podcast: Michael Gerrard on Held v. Montana

Jen Patja, Tyler McBrien, Michael Gerrard
Friday, June 16, 2023, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

On Monday, 16 young plaintiffs—between the ages of 5 and 22—walked into a packed courtroom in Helena, Montana, to sue their government. At issue is a 1972 amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing that the “state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.” 22-year-old Rikki Held and her co-plaintiffs allege that state officials violated that constitutional right. The case, Held v. Montana, now over a decade in the making, is truly historic—the first-ever constitutional climate lawsuit to reach trial in the United States.

Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Michael Gerrard, founder and faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School to talk through what’s at stake in this landmark case. They discussed the origins of the trial, its potential ripple effects, and where Held v. Montana sits in the landscape of climate change litigation around the world. 


Other reading of interest:

This climate newsletter from Annie Crabill at The Economist

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of the Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Tyler McBrien is the managing editor of Lawfare. He previously worked as an editor with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Princeton in Africa Fellow with Equal Education in South Africa, and holds an MA in international relations from the University of Chicago.
Michael Gerrard is the founder and faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School.

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