Kids Sued Montana Over Climate Change—Here’s How They Won
September 28, 2023
Last month, a district court judge in Montana ruled in favor of 16 youth plaintiffs in a landmark climate lawsuit. In Held v. Montana, young Montanans ranging from ages 5 to 22 sued the state, arguing that lawmakers have consciously prioritized the development of fossil fuels over the well-being of Montana’s residents and the protection of natural resources.
This case marks the first time that a U.S. court has declared a government’s constitutional duty to protect people from climate change. Not only does this case model how young people can engage with the legal system, it also sets precedent for similar lawsuits, proving state constitutions as a viable pathway to scoring seemingly unlikely civil rights victories.
Joining us today is Mat dos Santos, an attorney for Our Children’s Trust, the legal nonprofit group that brought the case on behalf of the youth, and Claire Vlases, one of the plaintiffs. They’ll explain what it took to get this case off the ground and what implications it could have for the future.