Tag Archives: Eighth Amendment

Ninth Circuit rules that cities can’t prosecute homeless for sleeping on the streets

This will no doubt help keep the homeless industrial complex alive.

From Fox News: Cities can’t prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six homeless people from Boise, Idaho, who sued the city in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in public spaces. The ruling could affect several other cities across the U.S. West that have similar laws.

It comes as many places across the West Coast are struggling with homelessness brought on by rising housing costs and income inequality.

When the Boise lawsuit was filed, attorneys for the homeless residents said as many as 4,500 people didn’t have a place to sleep in Idaho’s capital city and homeless shelters only had about 700 available beds or mats. The case bounced back and forth in the courts for years, and Boise modified its rules in 2014 to say homeless people couldn’t be prosecuted for sleeping outside when shelters were full.

But that didn’t solve the problem, the attorneys said, because Boise’s shelters limit the number of days that homeless residents can stay. Two of the city’s three shelters also require some form of religious participation for some programs, making those shelters unsuitable for people with different beliefs, the homeless residents said.

The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit found that the shelter rules meant homeless people would still be at risk of prosecution even on days when beds were open. The judges also said the religious programming woven into some shelter programs was a problem.

“A city cannot, via the threat of prosecution, coerce an individual to attend religion-based treatment programs consistently with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” Judge Marsha Berzon wrote.

The biggest issue was that the city’s rule violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment, the court found. The amendment limits what the government can criminalize, it said.

“As a result, just as the state may not criminalize the state of being ‘homeless in public places,’ the state may not ‘criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless — namely sitting, lying, or sleeping on the streets,'” Berzon wrote.

The ruling shows it’s time for Boise officials to start proposing “real solutions,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, whose attorneys were among those representing the homeless residents.

In 2007, the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of homeless residents of Los Angeles, finding that as long as there are more homeless residents than there are shelter beds, a law outlawing sleeping outside was unconstitutional. Both sides later reached an agreement and the entire case was eventually thrown out.

In 2009, a federal judge said a Portland, Oregon, policy designed to prevent people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks was unconstitutional. Portland officials now must also give campers at least 24 hours’ notice before cleaning up or moving unsanctioned camps.

A state judge rejected a similar anti-camping law in Everett, Washington.

Sara Rankin, a professor at the Seattle University School of Law and director of its Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, said the ruling will serve as a wake-up call to local governments, forcing them to invest in adequate supportive housing for the chronically homeless.

“I think it’s finally common sense,” Rankin said of the ruling. “There are certain life-sustaining activities that people can’t survive without doing. It’s a really important recognition that people have to be able to legally exist and survive somewhere.”

See also:

DCG

Better than Drudge Report. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

Please follow and like us:
error0
 

Private property rights battle: Court rules Missouri couple must plant grass, even though wife is allergic

government solve all problems
From Kansas City.com: A Missouri couple decided to turn their entire yard into a flower garden.  It turns out, that was against a city ordinance, which says half of residents’ yards must be grass turf.
But the wife is allergic to grass. Now a federal judge has ruled: tough.
So Janice and Carl Duffner are vowing to fight on.
Their city of St. Peters, near St. Louis, put the Duffners on notice that they must comply with the law. The Duffners said at the time they filed their civil rights action in late 2016 they were subject to penalties of $180,000 and 20 years in jail for non-compliance.
“If the city is permitted to impose draconian fines and imprisonment simply because a citizen chooses to cultivate on their own private property lawful, harmless plants of their own choosing instead of a potentially harmful plant of the government’s choosing, there is no longer any principled limit to the government’s control over either the property or the owners,” the Duffners’ complaint stated.
The Duffners bought their home in 2002 and began landscaping that included planting beds, two small ponds, pathways and seating areas. The St. Peters Board of Aldermen adopted the turf ordinance in 2008. At some point, an unidentified person complained to the city that the Duffners had no grass.
The Duffners asked for an exemption but were denied. Instead, the Board of Adjustment in 2014 told them to plant at least 5 percent of their property with grass. They refused.
In its response to the federal complaint, the city noted that the Duffners had first gone to circuit court in St. Charles County and had lost there because they had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. After a mixed ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals, the Duffners turned to federal court.
U.S. District Judge John A. Ross (appointed by Obama) last week ruled for the city, saying the Duffners “have failed to identify a fundamental right that is restricted by the Turf Grass Ordinance.” The judge said the Supreme Court has held that “aesthetic considerations constitute a legitimate government purpose.”
Ross also said the Duffners failed to demonstrate that the penalties for violating the turf ordinance are excessive and contrary to the Eighth Amendment.
The Duffners’ attorney, David Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri, told the Riverfront Times that the couple will appeal.
“My estimation is that this is one of the most important property rights cases in the country right now,” he said. “We’re going to go all hands on deck.”
DCG

Please follow and like us:
error0