Justices won’t review decision on ticketing for homelessness
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will not review a lower court decision that protected those experiencing homelessness from being ticketed for sleeping and camping on city sidewalks and parks if no other shelter is available.
Without comment or noted dissent, the court turned down a petition from Boise, Idaho, whose law against camping and sleeping on sidewalks was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit as a violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The 9th Circuit decision applies in nine Western states.
The 9th Circuit said the Eighth Amendment “prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter.”
Boise, joined by other cities covered by the decision, and activists for the homeless differed on its ramifications.
“The creation of a de facto constitutional right to live on sidewalks and in parks will cripple the ability of more than 1,600 municipalities in the Ninth
Circuit to maintain the health and safety of their communities,” Boise argued.
But activists, including the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said the city and its advocates had exaggerated the breadth of the 9th Circuit’s decision to try to win Supreme Court review.
“That result is limited in scope, and reflects the ought-to-be uncontroversial principle that a person may not be charged with a crime for engaging in activity that is simply a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human.”