Supreme Court restores cities’ authority to ban camping, LA mayor declines – California Globe

Supreme Court restores cities’ authority to ban camping, LA mayor declines – California Globe

President Andrew Jackson infamously said in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling he didn’t like regarding Native American sovereignty, “The court made its decision, now let them enforce it.” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said essentially the same thing in response to the new court ruling allowing laws banning camping in public spaces. She announced that she has no plans to change her approach to the homeless crisis, i.e. allowing people to pitch tents on beaches, parks, and sidewalks, and then sending city workers out to offer them free housing in newly built, city-run apartments paid for by LA residents.

California and other West Coast states have seen an explosion in homelessness in the past five years. That’s largely due to one thing: Cities have stopped enforcing laws banning overnight camping. This was in response to a Ninth Circuit ruling that such laws constituted “cruel and unusual” punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But the court has now overturned that and other similar rulings, leaving cities across the West free to continue their longstanding camping bans, as are cities across America.

However, it appears that LA is not ready to re-enforce the ban. While the Supreme Court ruling allows it, it is not required. Mayor Bass called the ruling “disappointing” in her statement on the verdict, adding, “This ruling should not be used as an excuse for cities across the country to try to solve this problem through arrests or to hide the homeless crisis in neighboring cities or in jail.”

She prefers her so-called “Inside Safe” approach, where instead of banning camping, she reduces homelessness by buying or building apartments for them. The cost of her program so far is $17,009 per person per month!

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling created two radical new interpretations of the Eighth Amendment. First, that the prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment” applies not only to sentences imposed for crimes, but to the criminal law itself. Second, it requires cities to provide housing for all homeless people before enforcing laws to protect the safety, security, and cleanliness of public spaces. This effectively creates a constitutional right to housing, a progressive dream previously thought attainable only by constitutional amendment.

In the 6-3 City Grants Pass vs. Johnson In its ruling, the Supreme Court overturned these interpretations. The primary error found in the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning was that the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment applies only to the punishment, not the underlying crime, unless the statute criminalizes status, not acts. No camping law does that, the court held. The court further noted that “the reasons why a person will be without shelter on a given night vary widely from person to person and from day to day.” Thus, a camping ban applied to one camper may be cruel but not to another. Individuals are free to raise defenses in response to charges, including that in their case the punishment would be cruel. “It may be that that defense extends to charges of illegal camping when the person involved has nowhere else to go,” the court noted.

The Court concluded that cities should be able to determine for themselves how best to protect their public space when tackling the homeless problem. “Homelessness is complex. Its causes are many. And so, perhaps, are the public policy responses needed to address it. The question this case raises, in essence, is whether the Eighth Amendment gives federal judges the primary responsibility for assessing those causes and devising those responses. It does not.”

Many mayors of western cities celebrated the ruling. Even some progressive leaders cheered it. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the ruling “provides definitive authority to implement and enforce policies to clear unsafe encampments” and “removes legal ambiguities that have tied the hands of local officials for years and limited their ability to provide common-sense measures to protect the safety and well-being of our communities.” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the decision “will help cities like San Francisco manage our public spaces more effectively and efficiently.”

But Bass doesn’t, positioning himself as further to the left than Newsom and Breed. Time will tell whether Newsom and Breed will truly change course in their approach to the problem. They’ve both committed to “housing first” policies, meaning the way to solve the homeless problem is to house them.

The plan has not worked well, as numbers have increased every year in cities like Los Angeles, where the bans are no longer enforced despite state and local governments providing billions of dollars for homeless housing. As a result of the restrictions created by the Ninth Circuit in 2019, the Supreme Court noted that “in California alone, roughly half the people in this country live without shelter on any given night” and that “homelessness in this country has reached its highest level since the government began reporting data on the topic in 2007.”

LA just got some “good news” that the recent homeless count showed a 2 percent decrease in the homeless population. While this is better than an increase, based on the money spent, you would expect better results. Additionally, over 1,000 homeless people died during this time. Not exactly the way you want to see the homeless population decrease.

Bass isn’t the only one who thinks so. The LA City Council feels the same way. Among its 15 members are three Democratic socialists and no Republicans. Two Democrats on the council are currently being challenged by Democratic socialists. In LA, where there is an open primary where the top two advance to the general election, it is no longer Republicans versus Democrats. It is Democrats versus Democratic socialists. Socialists generally believe that housing is a right and therefore the government should provide it for everyone.

To them, a homeless crisis is welcome. They point to it as a symptom of a problem, namely a capitalist system. They claim it is caused by unaffordable housing, landlords who wrongfully evict tenants, unfair rent increases, inadequate social services, and, to top it all off, racism. They use the homeless crisis as an excuse to implement their socialist dream policies, such as government housing, rent control, eviction moratoriums and protections, and reparations.

The inconvenient truth, however, is that the homeless crisis was created by the Ninth Circuit’s rulings. If L.A. doesn’t change course on enforcement when others do, it’s not hard to predict what will happen. The homeless will migrate to the “sanctuary” of L.A., where camping laws are not enforced. This has already happened. While homelessness has increased in California in recent years, it has decreased nationwide.

By not changing policies in response to the ruling, Bass is making LA the homeless capital of the United States.

Supreme Court restores cities’ authority to ban camping, LA mayor declines – California Globe