Sunday, December 22, 2019

Supreme Court Agrees To Constitutional Right To Camp On City Streets

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So much for the conservative Supreme Court. The same Supreme Court that has been slow to reverse lower court decisions granting cities and states power to thwart federal immigration law suddenly believes that states are vassals of the federal judiciary when it comes to enforcing their own internal public order issues.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied an appeal from the city of Boise, Idaho, to reverse a Ninth Circuit ruling that the city cannot close homeless encampments on the streets because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Does it get more radical than that?
The growing trend of public homeless encampment is becoming a major public policy challenge for America’s cities, especially in the western part of the country. As Heather Mac Donald noted on my podcast based on extensive firsthand research of San Francisco’s homeless epidemic, the more a city caters to the culture of vagrancy, the more the public encampment takes root. It has brought with it public disorder, environmental damage, drugs, theft, and violent assaults, threatening the basic peace of city streets. “Tolerating street vagrancy is a choice that cities make; for the public good, in San Francisco and elsewhere, that choice should be unmade,” wrote Mac Donald in her blockbuster report on San Francisco’s homeless crisis.
The core job of a local government, as Madison envisioned, is to deal with “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” Keeping the streets safe, clean, and orderly is a core job of local government. Yet in September 2018, the Ninth Circuit ruled, against an Idaho district court ruling, that Boise and other cities cannot enforce anti-encampment ordinances. “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property,” ruled the liberal court in Martin v. City of Boise.
This was part of a recent slew of crazy Eighth Amendment rulings from the Ninth Circuit. For example, earlier this year, the court ruled that Idaho is violating the Eighth Amendment if the state doesn’t fund a castration surgery for a male inmate in state prison. Like that case, it seemed to be a no-brainer that the Supreme Court would not allow a lower court to concoct such a sweeping and consequential new constitutional right and that it would immediately stay the injunction or at the very least take up the case on the merits. Yet, shockingly, the faux conservative court denied the appeal. That denial speaks as loudly as if the court actively ruled on this case, given the novel and insane premise of the court below.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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