On Sept. 23, 2016, a group of protesters blocked a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train carrying coal in Spokane, WA, to prevent the earth from warming up. From a scientific standpoint, the action was absurd: Stopping a single trainload of coal could hardly have any more impact on global climate change than the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in Tanzania.

As a piece of a political theater, it may have been more effective. The blockage by Rev. George Taylor and other members of groups called Veterans for Peace and Raging Grannies garnered widespread press coverage.

And the protest may trigger a legal revolution as well. In a hearing tomorrow, a judge in Spokane is expected to hand down a written ruling allowing Taylor to argue he had no choice but to stop the train.

Judge Debra Hayes has already indicated she’ll allow Taylor, a Lutheran pastor, to present the so-called “necessity defense” to defeat state charges of criminal trespass. Her formal order would clear the way him to bring in NASA scientists and other climate experts to try to convince a jury he had no reasonable alternative to halt human-induced global warming.

Read more of this Legal Newsline story on Forbes.

Categories: The Law

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