Plaintiffs’ Remedy Lies in the Messy Democratic Process
The 16 young Montanans who have sued in state court seeking a judicial declaration that the state of Montana‘s policies violate their right to a clean and healthful environment under Article IX, Section 1, of the Montana Constitution are surely both sincere and well intentioned. Climate change is a serious public concern that should focus the attention of Montana law makers. The plaintiff s allege that the state‘s policies violate their constitutional rights by both contributing to and failing to do enough to combat climate change. They may well be right about the effects of state policies, but it is not within the competence or authority of the judiciary to second guess or override those policies. The trial judge has recognized as much by indicating that the only remedy she will consider is a declaratory judgment. But even a declaration that state policies violate the constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment would require the judge to conclude that there are better policies the executive and legislature should enact.