SCOTUS Declines To Hear Appeal In Major Homeless Camping Case

Dec 20, 2019

Homeless advocates are cheering the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal in a pivotal case out of Idaho.  KLCC’s Brian Bull got reaction from someone living on the streets of Eugene.

A row of tents and carts line 11th Avenue.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

The case, City of Boise versus Martin, was ruled on last year by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  It declared it is unconstitutional to prosecute people for sleeping on public property if there’s not enough housing or shelter available. Many cities across the West region with high homeless rates wanted the nation’s highest court to hear an appeal on the ruling. They argued local governments lacked direction on how much shelter to provide.

Eric Jackson, a homeless advocate who is part of the current 11th Avenue encampment.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Eric Jackson is a homeless advocate camping on 11th Avenue. He says this is a major development.

“The court was very specific on the group status.  So the status of being homeless was cemented, and that’s huge. That status is something that we can and will use in the cases going forward.

"So I’m excited.”

The ruling’s a setback for cities wanting to regulate sidewalk encampments. The 2018 ruling still allows police to intervene if there’s criminal activity.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.