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Supreme Court declines to hear case on homeless camping bans

The United States Supreme Court announced Monday it would decline to hear a challenge from the City of Boise, Idaho to reverse an appellate ruling that held ticketing homeless people for sleeping in public spaces as unconstitutional.

The case centered on the City of Boise’s no-camping ordinance, which authorized police to cite homeless residents for residing in public spaces.

In August 2017, the City of Fresno approved a companion no-camping ordinance to strike back at a booming homeless population in California’s fifth largest city.

Last September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that municipalities could not cite homeless people for sleeping in public places without having practical shelter available.

The case serves as the basis for homeless enforcement in the western United States, currently gripped by an ever-growing population of homeless denizens.

The push for Supreme Court review by the city of Boise led a number localities, including the County of Los Angeles, to join in the effort and demand the Supreme Court to hear the case.

“Letting the current law stand handicaps cities and counties from acting nimbly to aid those perishing on the streets, exacerbating unsafe and unhealthy conditions that negatively affect our most vulnerable residents,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

“Supporting the City of Boise’s position to appeal to the Supreme Court was never an attempt to criminalize the homeless; rather, it was a pursuit of a legal framework that is clear – in comparison to a status quo that is ambiguous and confusing.”

With the denial by the high court on Monday, the Ninth Circuit’s September ruling controls the constitutionality of homeless enforcement in nine Western states, including California.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.