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.”
Poke a liberal, s/he will scream “Separation of Church and State!” ad nauseum — a phrase that, contrary to their claim, is not in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Instead, the phrase “separation of church and state” — that has become in the minds of too many Americans the definition of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause — actually originated in a letter by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists in which he wrote, referring to the Establishment Clause:
“that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Given how Democrats insist on the separation of church from state, it is downright perverse that, among his many misdeeds, Obama has forged an alliance a collusion with Christian churches and “faith-based” organizations in aiding and abetting the invasion of illegals across the Mexican border into America.
As an example, the Religion News Service reported on Nov. 12, 2014 that U.S. “Catholic bishops are jumping into the increasingly contentious battle over immigration reform bybacking President Obama’s pledge to act on his own to fix what one bishop called ‘this broken and immoral system’ before Republicans assume control of Capitol Hill in January.” In other words, as represented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Church is actively supporting Obama in his scheme to subvert the federal government’s own immigration laws, and against the will of some 70% of Americans. In so doing, the bishops are being decidedly political, although religious groups are supposed to be apolitical, thereby justifying their tax-exempt status.
Then there are so-called “faith-based” organizations that get paid very well for doing the work of federal government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Chief among those organizations is a curious outfit that calls itself the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS) with very lucrative on-going contracts with the Obama administration’s HHS, DHS, and other agencies.
BCFS first came to public notice last July when they provided “Brown Shirts” security personnel for the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where some of the illegal “children” were detained. (See “Obama’s Brown Shirts threaten health workers who divulge infectious diseases brought by tidal wave of illegals into America”)
Note: It is a deliberate misnomer to call the illegals “children” or “minors” because they include illegals in their late teens, some of whom are criminals who have committed torture and murder, like this one below (See “We need to re-define the term ‘minors’”):
Then news came that BCFS had contracted to acquire and operate the luxury Palm Aire Resort & Hotel to house illegal “children” at a cost of $50 million. That particular scheme fell apart after news of the scheme resulted in immediate popular outrage, after which the media (and therefore the public) seemed to have lost all interest in the BCFS and the housing of those illegal “children”.
But not the D.C.-based citizen watchdog group Judicial Watch.
On August 1, 2014, Judicial Watch submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Obama administration for information on BCFS’s funding and correspondence with the HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
On September 9, 2014, Judicial Watch received documents from the HHS revealing that the Obama administration had paid Baptist Children and Family Services (BCFS) more than $182 million ($182,129,786) to provide “basic shelter care” to 2,400 “unaccompanied alien children” for just four months in 2014. (See Judicial Watch’s press release of Dec. 3, 2014, “Judicial Watch: Documents Reveal Obama HHS Paid Baptist Children and Family Services $182,129,786 for Four Months Housing of Illegal Alien Children.”)
The more than $182 million spent on illegal “children” for just 4 months include:
1. Over $104 million ($104,215,608) for 1,200 unaccompanied illegal “children” at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, June 12-Oct. 18, 2014 ($21,711.59 per child per month), including:
1,200 “emergency surge beds.”
$180,000 for “recreational items,” including board games, soccer balls, basket balls, jump ropes, bracelet making kits, yarn, puzzles, arts and crafts, decks of cards, and eye-hand coordination game sets.
$180,000 for “educational items,” including tempera paint, paint markers, paint brushes, easel brushes, art paper, and multicultural crayons.
$200,000 for 100 laptop kits: each kit has 5 laptops, at $500 per kit.
$2,648,800 in compensation for 30 members of the BCFS “Incident Management Team” (IMT), or $88,293 per IMT member.
$78 million ($77,914,178) for 1,200 unaccompanied illegal “children” at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, May 18-Sept. 18, 2014 (or $16,232 per child per month), including:
1,200 “emergency surge beds”.
$20,000 for “utility expenses,” including cable television (video screen/projector set up – due to the large dormitory set and configuration to ensure large group seatings can view movies, sports, etc.), estimated at $5,000 per month.
$80,000 for 20 “shower stalls” at $1,000 a piece. But Judicial Watch notes that shower stalls at Home Depot can be purchased for as low as $163.71 per stall.
$576,000 for twice-a-week long-distance calls by the 1,200 illegal “children” to their families because “contact with family members is imperative and part of BCFS’s daily programing.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton rightly observes:
“It is outrageous that the Obama administration spent nearly $200 million of taxpayer funds to provide illegal alien children with the types of extravagant high-tech equipment and lavish benefits many American families cannot even afford for their own children. And very few American workers are bringing home the $80,000 the Obama administration pays the BCFS’s Incident Management Team for just four months’ work. Obama’s lawlessness resulted in an illegal alien ‘surge‘ that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in 2014. Based on his new lawless amnesty plans, we can expect hundreds of millions more in taxpayer costs for the resulting wave of illegal aliens trying to take advantage of Obama’s illegal nullification of our nation’s immigration laws.”
Worse still, BCFS’s contract with the HHS has an end date of September 30, 2016, which suggests that the Obama administration anticipates that the “surge” will continue until near the end of his presidency.
So what is the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS)?
BCFS describes itself as “rooted in Texas” with “branches worldwide”:
BCFS is a global network of … non-profit organizations that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of at-risk populations. BCFS partners with government agencies, corporations, non-profits, and community leaders to develop programs and service models that combat challenges in health and human services.
BCFS boasts locationsin 10 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas) and Washington, D.C. in the United States, as well as in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Among the services that BCFS provides are “emergency management, including medical sheltering, during public health disasters” and “residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected.”
Emergency management? Gosh, I thought we have FEMA for that?!
Among BCFS’s “partners” are:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
U.S. Border Patrol
U.S. Agency for International Development (AID)
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Labor
State governments of Texas, Nevada, Washington, and Maine.
The division of BCFS that directly pertains to its contracts with the Obama administration to house and service the illegal “children” is its Emergency Management Division (BCFS-EMD).
This is how CCFS’s Emergency Management Division describes itself:
BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) is a non-profit partner of federal, state and local government and private industry. Our organization specializes in emergency management, incident management, disaster response, public health and medical emergency response, mass care, medical sheltering and planning for vulnerable populations.
Note that nowhere in BCFS’s or BCFS-EMD’s self-descriptions is there any mention of the Baptist Church or of Christianity.
In truth, any organization can call itself “Baptist” without actually being Baptist or even Christian. If the mafia were smart, it should rename itself Baptist Community Services Syndicate.
As Sundance of the Conservative Tree House (aka The Last Refuge) observes:
“Faith Based Organizations”. Has a nice charitable ring to it, no? …. Alas, not so fast.
Allow us to introduce to you Mr. Kevin Dinnin.
He’s the paid President and CEO of Baptist Child and Family Services Emergency Management Division(BCFS-EMD). We found him by backtracking the name of the principal officer posted on their 2012 tax filings.
Dinnin’s annual salary is over $477,799. Altogether, the BCFS-EMD leadership and staff are paid $33 million in wages for 2012.
In July 2014, BCFS and its Emergency Management Division secured a grant from DHS and HHS of more than $190 million ($190,707,505).That’s just one grant. Here are a few more of BCFS’s lucrative contracts with the Obama administration:
In just the first half of 2014, BCFS has received over a quarter billion dollars — taxpayer dollars.
In 2012, BCFS pulled in $67,325,953 and $63,321,669 of taxpayer funds through DHS and HHS grants/contracts. In other words, around 94% of BCFS’s entire operational “charity revenue” in 2012 came from American taxpayers.
And this so-called “Baptist” non-profit is expanding, thanks to Obama’s “border surge,” to form “regional hubs for BCFS’s new family support and evaluation programs” with four new directors (Celeste Garcia, Alexandria Peralta, Michelle Fuentes, Kelsey Keswani) — in New York, NY; Miami, FL; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; Sacramento and Los Angeles, CA.
BCFS will lead these programs as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) strategic plan to provide safe and stable homes for international youth who are granted permission to stay with family or sponsors already living in the country.
Please tell me why exactly do we have the federal government agencies of FEMA, HHS, and Border Patrol?
Gasp! George Washington at Valley Forge actually knelt down to pray to God!
Did you know that the United States Constitution does not and has NEVERsaid there should be a “separation of church and state”?
The words “separation of church and state” are not in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but are words from the phrase, “wall of separation between church and state,” in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.
But the Left deliberately twists the First Amendment’s establishment clause prohibiting the government’s establishment of a state religion (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”) into the iron rule of “separation of church and state.”
With the help of complicit Congress, legislatures and judges across America, that separation is then further defined to mean crosses and the Ten Commandments must be removed from courthouses and other government buildings, and the Pledge of Allegiance and The Lord’s Prayer must be banished from public schools because both contain the dreaded word “God.”
Never mind that despite the “separation of church and state,” a U.S. federal government agency — the Department of Interior’s National Park Service— saw fit to issue a series of videos extolling the “church” of Islam.
This sad state of affairs in our public schools prompted a 15-year-old student in Arizona to write a new Pledge of Allegiance:
Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.
If scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.
For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God’s name is prohibited by the state.
We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks…
They’ve outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the ‘unwed daddy,’ our Senior King.
It’s ‘inappropriate’ to teach right from wrong,
We’re taught that such ‘judgments’ do not belong.
We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.
It’s scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot, my soul please take!
Jesus said, ‘If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before