Department of Justice lawyers are urging the Supreme Court to deny a petition from oil heavyweights seeking to keep climate litigation against fossil fuel companies out of state courts, Ben writes.

Why it matters: State courts are generally seen as friendlier venues for state and local governments who, in roughly two dozen cases nationwide, are seeking damages from various companies for climate-related harms.

Driving the news: The DOJ filed an amicus brief yesterday in response to the Supreme Court petition from Exxon and Suncor, who face litigation from city and county officials in Boulder, Colo.

The other side: Oil companies and allied groups including the American Petroleum Institute (API) say federal courts are the appropriate forum and have sought to have the cases heard there.

  • An API amicus brief backing the Exxon and Suncor certiorari petition says climate policy should come from the executive branch and Congress.
  • “Ad hoc and unpredictable decisions of individual state courts, seeking to govern the worldwide conduct of a handful of individual defendants, are not a sensible way to address issues of this scope and magnitude.”

Yes, but: David Bookbinder, an attorney representing Boulder officials, said in a statement: “We’re pleased that, like every appellate court to consider the issue, the United States recognizes that these cases belong in state court.”

Of note: The new move splits with DOJ’s Trump-era stance on venue.

What we don’t know: Whether the high court will take up the case.

  • Harvard Law professor Richard Lazarus tells Ben that historically, a recommendation against review from the DOJ’s solicitor general would “most likely” lead to denial.
  • “It is less clear, however, that this particular court will be similarly deferential,” he said via email.
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