October 22, 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

LA County Says Younger Adults and Teenagers Are Driving COVID-19 Cases

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

68 percent of new cases among people between ages of 12 and 50 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health...

Santa Monica Has Issued Over 40 Face Covering Citations

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

City expanding COVID-19 compliance efforts with the addition of “Health Ambassadors”  By Sam Catanzaro The City of Santa Monica says...

Grand Jury Indicts Former Angel Employee in Tyler Skaggs’ Fatal Overdose

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Fort Wayne grand jury indicts Eric Prescott Kay on drug distribution and drug conspiracy charges By Sam Catanzaro A federal...

YogaWorks Studios Closing Amid Pandemic: Santa Monica Beat – October, 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * YogaWorks Studios Closing Amid Pandemic * Carjacking Suspects in Custody All...

Edify TV: More Bike Lanes for Westside

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

A Westside city is adding more miles of protected bike lanes. Learn more in this video made possible by Santa...

Outgoing Santa Monica Police Chief Set to Receive Nearly $100K of Severance Pay

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Santa Monica City Council approves retirement agreement for outgoing chief Cynthia Renaud By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica’s outgoing police chief...

Intravenous Vitamin Therapy: A Natural, Effective Solution for the Flu

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

By Dr. Mahboubeh Hashemi, ND and Dr. Matthew Cavaiola, ND  As fall and winter are fast approaching, many people, and...

Edify TV: Deal to House Homeless People Near Freeways

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

After months of negotiations, the City and County of LA reached a $300 million deal to house thousands of homeless...

Santa Monica’s Police Chief Retiring

October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

SMPD Cynthia Renaud announces retirement, to be replaced by former Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica has announced...

Virtual Staging Changing The Way We Sell Property?

October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

Today on Westside Cribz, Chuck Lorre buys his neighbors home, Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk selling his Santa...

O.C. Man Faces Federal Charges for Allegedly Setting SMPD Car on Fire

October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

Nathan Wilson, 27, faces up to 20 years in prison An Irvine man was taken into federal custody this week...

Santa Monica Spa Owner Admits Price Gouging in Sale of Scarce N95 Masks

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Niki Schwarz, owner of Tikkun Holistic Spa, pleads guilty to federal charges A Santa Monica day spa owner was charged...

Council Challenger Earns Endorsement After Coming Out Against Controversial Project: Santa Monica Beat – October, 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Council Challenger Earns Endorsement After Coming Out Against Controversial Project *...