Council Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Intervene in Homelessness Ruling
The Bay Area Council today formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower federal court ruling that has effectively hamstrung local jurisdictions in their efforts to address homelessness. The amicus curiae(friend of the court) brief asks the Supreme Court to grant cities broad flexibility to define adequate shelter as necessary to bring homeless residents indoors, save lives, and restore access to public spaces. Filed under the Council’s leadership with a coalition of other partners, the request stems from Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, which expanded on an earlier decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case (Martin v. Boise) that has prevented cities from enforcing no-camping ordinances unless a shelter offer is made.
The ambiguities of the Martin decision have resulted in a patchwork of rulings and interpretations from lower courts in San Francisco, Phoenix, and elsewhere whose net sum is the impractical constraint on the ability of cities to protect public health and safety by providing homeless residents with shelter. Studies have shown that unsheltered homeless residents are at drastically higher risk of chronic and infectious disease, homicide, assault, and accidental death. Special thanks to Council member Hanson Bridgett for providing pro bono assistance in the brief’s development. To engage with the Council’s Homelessness Committee, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert .