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Governments and Cities Across the Western States Petition the Supreme Court to Overturn a Previous Ruling on Outdoor Encampments

A bipartisan group of cities and states under the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals filed briefs in an attempt to overturn a previous Supreme Court decision regarding outdoor encampments.

This filing comes from the city of Grant Pass, Oregon, petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn a previous court ruling in Martin v. Boise, which deemed relocating people without providing housing unconstitutional.

Under the ruling by the Supreme Court in Martin v. Boise, the Supreme Court said it was “unconstitutional for cities to clear homeless encampments and criminally charge campers unless they could offer adequate housing.” New York Times

Grant Pass, Oregon, wrote civil citations to those camping in public areas like sidewalks and parks that the Ninth Circuit also later ruled that “municipal tickets” were prohibited.

Supporters include Governor Gavin Newsom, who said the Boise ruling has become “distorted” and is causing a “humanitarian crisis.” (New York Times)

Opponents say fining or ticketing people without anywhere to stay could go against the Eighth Amendment. (Vox)

Mr. Tars of the National Homeless Law Center said that cities can address homelessness how they choose, though they must provide other options or services.

“Communities are free to address homelessness through any of the many evidence-based approaches that can solve and end it,” Mr. Tars said. “The only thing they can’t do is arrest or cite homeless people without bothering to give them any alternative.” (New York Times)

According to the New York Times, “more than 40% of the nation’s homeless population resides in the nine Western States,” which are a part of the Ninth Circuit.  (New York Times)

If Martin v. Boise is overturned, it may encourage more cities to ban outdoor camping and possibly make camping a felony, according to Vox. 

The implications of the Supreme Court possibly overturning Martin v. Boise could have a drastic negative effect on those who are unhoused and make it more of a challenge for those trying to provide services for the unhoused.

Sources:

https://www.vox.com/2023/10/10/23905951/homeless-tent-encampments-grants-pass-martin-boise-unsheltered-housing

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