by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow

Educating children is a responsibility we all share. That’s why schools are public, to make sure we pass along to the next generation our system of self-government based on individual freedom, personal responsibility, and the rule of law. It is our job to educate children, not the other way around.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t occasional pearls of wisdom from children, as with the little girl willing to say the emperor had no clothes. The Huffington Post last year opined about things we can learn from children, such as “have fun, be curious, express yourself sincerely, love fearlessly, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.” In truth, these are things we teach children, not learn from them. Good parents teach universal life truths: always do your best; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything; keep your elbows off the table; you can do anything you put your mind to; treat others how you wish to be treated.

In turn, children teach us to remember what is most important in life. And global warming. That’s what we are expected to conclude from a landmark legal case known as the “children’s lawsuit,” which seeks to end the use of oil, gas, and coal. The plaintiffs charge the U.S. government with actions and inactions that endanger life itself, because it has failed to ban our use of energy. It was filed on behalf of 21 kids from 10 to 19, but not by the kids themselves, of course. None of them are licensed to practice law in Oregon, where the suit was filed, much less before the Supreme Court, where it was recently discussed. The Supreme Court has denied a government motion to dismiss the case, so it is headed to trial this fall.

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