Newsom urges SCOTUS to consider encampment ruling that has ‘paralyzed’ California cities

“It’s time for the courts to stop these confusing, impractical and costly rulings that only serve to worsen this humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The Grants Pass ruling prevented city officials from enforcing ordinances against sleeping on public property, expanding a prior ruling — Martin v. Boise — that barred cities from criminalizing people who were sleeping in public spaces if there weren’t sufficient beds to accommodate them.

The Ninth Circuit recently upheld that ruling. Those legal precedents have sharply curtailed California officials’ authority to clear homeless encampments, an increasingly ubiquitous feature of West Coast cities that have fanned voter outrage.

San Francisco is fighting an anti-clearance injunction, and San Diego City Council voted this week to back the Grants Pass appeal. Now Newsom has also waded in, laying down a mark in a legal dispute with potentially profound implications for one of California’s most pressing issues.

The Democratic governor has for years assailed judges who limit encampment sweeps, arguing they are undercutting efforts to move people out of dangerous, unsanitary conditions. Newsom reiterated that argument last week in vowing to intervene in the Grants Pass case.

“I hope this goes to the Supreme Court, and that’s a hell of a statement for a progressive Democrat,” Newsom said in an interview with POLITICO last week. “It’s gone too far. People’s lives are at risk.”

What’s next? The Supreme Court will decide whether to take up the case. The high court declined to hear an appeal of the Boise case in 2019.

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