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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