The Trial of the Century

Will 21 young plaintiffs ultimately be able to persuade a conservative-dominated US Supreme Court that the federal government is violating their constitutional right to a livable planet? It depends on whether the Court is willing to heed the scientific evidence.

.. In 1992, countries, including the US, China, India, and all European states (and a total of 189 by 2006) accepted responsibility for addressing climate change. Meeting at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, they agreed to stabilize greenhouse gases “at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

The agreement did not specify what level is low enough to prevent such dangerous interference with our climate, but the scientific consensus is that to allow the global temperature to rise to an average of more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is to risk catastrophe.

.. The first climate litigation to win a positive decision was Urgenda Foundation v. The State of Netherlands, in which a Dutch court ruled, in 2015, that the government must ensure that the country’s emissions are cut by one quarter within five years.

.. Juliana v. United States is by far the most significant climate case to date. If ever a case has deserved to be called “the trial of the century,” this is it.

.. The US is the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter, and its per capita emissions are about twice those of the largest emitter, China.

.. If we take the view that every person on this planet is entitled to an equal share of the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb our greenhouse-gas emissions, then the US is emitting 3.5 times its fair share. The US emits more greenhouse gases than India, for example, although it has only one-quarter of the population.

Moreover, the principle of equal per capita emissions is generous to the old industrialized countries, because it ignores their historical responsibility for the past emissions that have led to the situation we face today.

.. The plaintiffs claim that their government’s active contribution to climate change has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. When the government sought to prevent the case from being heard, the federal district court of Oregon issued a historic ruling that “the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”

.. When Juliana v. United States is appealed to the US Supreme Court, as seems inevitable, the question may no longer be whether the preservation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights requires “a climate system capable of sustaining human life”; it undeniably does. Instead, the Court will have to decide whether it is willing to heed the scientific evidence that the actions of the US government are indeed jeopardizing the survival of human life on our planet. If it is, even the most conservative justices will find it difficult to escape the conclusion that the government is in violation of the US Constitution.

Manafort plea talks could offer each side a small victory

“If it wasn’t for the possibility of a pardon, it would be insane for him not to cut a deal at this point,” said Cotter. “He’s already guaranteed to go to prison for years, he’s got little reasonable chance of winning in D.C., it’s in­cred­ibly expensive, and there’s no benefit to him (in going to trial). And he’s in the enviable position that, even after a conviction, if he’s willing to tell the truth, the government is still interested in talking to him. That’s pretty rare.”

.. By pleading, Manafort would also duck the cost of paying his legal team to represent him over a weeks-long trial. For complex white-collar cases like Manafort’s, the tab for such a trial could be $1 million or more.

Trump, Cohen do not plan to enforce Stormy Daniels’s nondisclosure agreement, court filings state

Lawyers for Trump stated Saturday that he “does not, and will not, contest [Daniels’s] assertion” that the settlement agreement is invalid, according to a document filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawyers promised that Trump “will not bring any action, proceeding or claim” against Daniels to enforce the terms of the contract.

.. “Nothing has changed,” Avenatti said of the chance he will be able to depose Trump and Cohen in the case. “We’re marching forward.”

Michael Cohen Drops Defamation Suits Against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS Over Russia Dossier

Decision comes amid investigation of Donald Trump’s personal attorney for potential bank fraud and campaign-finance violations

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has dropped a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed over the publication of an unsubstantiated intelligence dossier that alleged he played a role in working with Russia to help Mr. Trump become president.

Mr. Cohen is also dropping a similar defamation suit against Fusion GPS, the private investigation firm responsible for the dossier.

Since filing the suits in January, Mr. Cohen has come under criminal investigation for potential bank fraud and campaign-finance violations. His attorney said the probe made it difficult to continue with the defamation cases.