FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ruling on Chernaik v Brown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ruling on Chernaik v Brown



Rebecca Gladstone, President, LWVOR, 503.581.5722,

[Salem, Oregon] – The Oregon Supreme Court ruled yesterday, October 22, 2020, on the case of youth seeking climate protection, Chernaik v Brown. Judge Lynn Nakamoto affirmed a Court of Appeals 2019 decision, returning the case to an Oregon Circuit Court. Unfortunately, yesterday’s ruling causes further delay, as climate chaos is accelerating, now causing desperate climate migration globally. The League of Women Voters of Oregon, friends of the court to the case currently sitting in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th District, will persist in urging for government leadership to address the accelerating harm from climate change.

From LWVOR President, Rebecca Gladstone:

“We will not be dissuaded by this technical setback in our efforts to bring attention to climate change. Our hearts go out to those who lost their homes, even entire communities to last summer’s more devastating wildfire season caused by drought, across the west. Our sister Leagues toward the east also struggle with more frequent, cataclysmic storms.

We are committed to continue our litigation and efforts in Oregon, with Leagues around the country, nationally, and around the world. We are grateful for increasing recognition of climate change. A lot is happening with many independent actions that can gradually help. We will continue to push, as urgently as possible, for the necessary, bold intervention that governments can provide.”

We agree with Chief Justice Martha Walters, who filed a dissent, that we have a stewardship duty for our public trust resources:

“As I see it, however, the time is now. This court already has recognized the state’s duty to protect and preserve the natural resources to which the public trust doctrine applies and should declare that that duty exists; the reasons the majority gives for refusing to do so are not convincing.

We should not hesitate to declare that our state has an affirmative fiduciary duty to act reasonably to prevent substantial impairment of our public trust resources. I respectfully dissent.”

The League of Women Voters of Oregon has filed amicus briefs in multiple court proceedings to support Our Children’s Trust, which began in 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. These efforts have expanded into courts in all 50 states, to the US Supreme Court, and to numerous courts around the world.

We appreciate Governor Brown’s message to young voters:

“To all of Oregon’s young people: If you’re frustrated by the speed at which your government is addressing the most urgent crisis of this generation and the next, know that I am too. There is a place where Oregonians can make their voices heard––the ballot box. If you care about climate change, if you care about the future of this planet, if you want future generations to have clean air and clean water, then please, vote.”