Gov. Gavin Newsom's office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that has prevented cities from clearing out homeless encampments.
Courts, he argued, should make a ruling to halt what he called "confusing" and "impractical" rulings that can only worsen the homelessness crisis. "Courts have tied the hands of state and local governments that seek to use common sense approaches to clean our streets and provide help for unhoused Californians living in inhumane conditions," his statement continued.
In the case, three homeless people filed a class action lawsuit against the city of Grants Pass and challenged the legality of the city's enforcement policy of their public camping ordinance. Their lawyers claimed that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which prevents excessive bail and fines, or cruel or unusual punishment.
The 9th Circuit's ruling, meanwhile, was handed down as West Coast cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland have grappled with a significant rise in homelessness, encampments, and public drug usage in recent years. Mr. Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco before he was elected governor, argued that the myriad of recent court rulings lack clarity and prevent cities from engaging in public safety measures.
"These courts have stretched Martin’s reasonable limit into an unsurmountable roadblock, preventing cities and towns from imposing commonsense time and place restrictions to keep streets safe and to move those experiencing homelessness into shelter," Mr. Newsom's brief stated. "California’s elected officials who seek in good faith to improve what often appears to be an intractable crisis have found themselves without options, forced to abandon efforts to make the spaces occupied by unhoused people safer."
In Los Angeles, a district court recently ruled that shelters have to meet a long list of requirements, including rules for nursing staff, testing mandates for diseases, and mandates for on-site security before the city could enforce anti-camping laws, according to Mr. Newsom's filing.
The California State Association of Counties and League of California Cities also filed an amicus brief, telling the justices last week that previous federal court rulings have imperiled cities from sweeping homeless camps and order people off the streets due to public safety concerns.
For years, Mr. Newsom has targeted federal judges who have blocked sweeps of homeless camps, saying that they undercut efforts to move such individuals out of dangerous areas. He told Politico earlier this month that he wanted his case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the Grants Pass plaintiffs have not issued public comments after the California governor's office filed its brief last week.
The case is Grants Pass v. Johnson; No. 23-175.