Twenty AGs Filed Amicus Brief Opposing Attempt by Oil Majors to Hamstring Baltimore's Climate Liability Lawsuit

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an attempt by major oil and gas companies to prevent the City of Baltimore’s lawsuit to hold them accountable for the impacts of climate change from proceeding in state court. As the attorneys general outlined in their brief, the companies’ arguments in favor of removing the case to federal court received careful and thorough consideration by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, which rejected all eight arguments and remanded the case to state court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit then granted an appropriately narrow review — limited to questions of federal-officer and civil-rights jurisdiction, consistent with federal law — and upheld the district court’s decision, just as seven other federal appellate courts have done in similar cases. The companies then sought to leverage those two narrow exceptions, which have little if any relevance to Baltimore’s case, to force additional review of their other arguments. The attorneys general urged the Court to reject this gambit, which threatens to provide defendants “a powerful new tool to further prolong federal litigation over threshold removal issues and thus impede the States’ efforts to obtain relief for serious wrongdoing.” The attorneys general warned that such an outcome would be “divorced from foundational principles of federalism” and would conflict with “Congress’s careful efforts to respect and preserve each sovereign’s unique powers and prerogatives.”