January 28, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case on Law Punisning Homeless Sleeping in Public Places

Ruling ties hands for lawmakers grappling with encampments, celebrated by homeless advocates

By Sam Catanzaro

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in a case surrounding a Boise, Idaho law that would have made it illegal to sleep in public places, a setback for many West Coast cities grappling with a growing homelessness crisis.

The decision, issued by the court without comment Monday, leaves in place earlier rulings by the 9th Circuit appeals court, in the case Martin v. Boise, that homeless persons cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives. The ruling is binding in the 9th Circuit, covering nine states including California, a state home to 1/4 of the nation’s homeless population.

Lawyers representing Boise argued that the decision ultimately hurts the individuals the law claims to protect by hindering lawmakers within the 9th Circuit from managing homeless encampments that pose a public safety risk.

“Public encampments, now protected by the Constitution under the Ninth Circuit’s decision, have spawned crime and violence, incubated disease, and created environmental hazards that threaten the lives and well-being both of those living on the streets and the public at large,” said lawyers for Boise in court documents.

Los Angeles County, where homelessness increased 16 percent the past year, and many other governing bodies backed Boise in its petition to the Supreme Court.

“The Martin decision forbids municipalities from enforcing common sense ordinances that prohibit public camping unless those local governments can offer acceptable shelter to every unhoused person in the jurisdiction. In other words, the County could be powerless to address camping in public places by anyone until it provides shelter for everyone,” the County wrote in September.

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who represents Santa Monica and is a Santa Monica resident, however, voted against backing Boise’s petition in September.

“We need to continue to provide more and more housing and shelter and services, not simply ticket and arrest,” Kuehl said.

This was a view shared by lawyers representing homeless individuals and their advocates following the Supreme Court’s decision Monday.

“We’re thrilled that the Court has let the 9th Circuit decision stand so that homeless people are not punished for sleeping on the streets when they have no other option,” said Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “But ultimately, our goal is to end homelessness through housing—which is effective and saves taxpayer dollars—so that no one has to sleep on the streets in the first place. We hope that the 9th Circuit decision will help communities find the political will to put that housing in place. Housing, not handcuffs, is what ends homelessness.”

The case now returns to the 9th Circuit. The City of Boise says it is evaluating options for its next actions.

Related Posts

Santa Monica Sees Nearly 9 Percent Spike in Part 1 Crimes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud gives crime update. By Sam Catanzaro Over the past month, Santa Monica has experienced a string...

Man Charged for Murdering Mother

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files charges on Stephen Lloyd Fader. By Staff Writer The Los Angeles County District...

Fighting Fires, Tackling Homelessness, Saving Lives

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

The role of fire departments in 21st-century urban centers.  By Keldine Hull Do firefighters fight fires? Obviously, but most of...

SM City Defends Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Staff Writer Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously at their January 22 meeting to join an amicus brief to...

SMPD Mounted Patrol Aids in Arrest

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) carried out an arrest on February 1 with the aid of horses....

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city. By Tor Marom Discussions on public...

State of the City: Climate Change, Communication Among Challenges Facing Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Mayor Davis delivers annual address. By Tor Marom This past Wednesday, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its annual...

Santa Monica and ‘Big One’ Preparedness

July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

All it took was 10-20 seconds for the 1994 Northridge earthquake to rattle Southern California in a way no earthquake had done before. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured as the state reeled from a catastrophic event that cost billions in damages

Santa Monica Man Arrested for Attempting to Murder Girlfriend

February 12, 2019

February 12, 2019

Kevin Ferron charged with attacking girlfriend Anna Koosman. By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) have arrested a...

Fire Damages Santa Monica High Rise

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Shores Apartments unit catches fire Monday night.  By Staff Writer A Santa Monica high rise by the beach caught fire Monday...

SMPD to Conduct Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Citations and increased enforcement Feb. 15 and 18. By Staff Writer  The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting bike...

Judge’s Final Ruling Orders Districts, Special Election

February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019

Final judgement calls for July 2 special election to choose new council.  By Sam Catanzaro  A final judgment has been...

Santa Monica Police Seize 29 Guns, Cocaine, Meth and Heroin

February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019

By Staff Writer  On February 15,  the Santa Monica Police Department’s (SMPD) Narcotics/Vice Unit along with SWAT served multiple search...

Adapting to Santa Monica’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019

City’s disposable food-ware ordinance under effect. By Keldine Hull When an updated Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance went into effect...

Council Votes Unanimously to Appeal District-Election Ruling

February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

City of Santa Monica to appeal ruling that elections are in violation of CRVA.  By Sam Catanzaro On February 21,...