Case Summary Citation

Held v. State, No. CDV-2020-307, (Mont. 1st Dist. Ct. Aug. 4, 2021)


On March 13, 2020, a group of 16 Montana children and teenagers filed a complaint in the First Judicial District, Lewis and Clark County against the State of Montana and several state agencies. These young Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief against Defendants for their complicity in continuing to extract and release harmful amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. Plaintiffs premised their argument on the Montana Constitution’s robust environmental rights and protections. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss which the District Court granted in-part and denied in-part. Held provides a roadmap for future litigation by elucidating Montana’s jurisprudential approach to a constitutional challenge about climate change. This strategy allowed Plaintiffs to streamline judicial review which is important because climate change is not an impending threat but an active one. The young Plaintiffs sought expansive remedies and the Court will now only hear the ones considered judicially reasonable. Held highlights issues of intergenerational equity and the abdication of government from recognizing that present and future citizens have a right to enjoy land, air, and water held in public trust.



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