Horst D. Deckert

Appeals Court Rules The Homeless Have A Right To Camp On Sidewalks


The ruling was based on an extreme interpretation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

The 9th circuit court of appeals affirmed the constitutional right of vagrants to sleep on sidewalks, in parks, and even on the steps of court houses.

Please consider the Coalition on Homeless v. the City of San Francisco, San Francisco Police Department filed January 11. 2024.

In the ruling, the court sided with the Coalition on Homeless and against the city to “prevent the City and County of San Francisco from enforcing any ordinance that punishes sleeping, lodging, or camping on public property“.

The ruling was based on an extreme interpretation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Eighth Amendment

The 8th amendment says “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

In a 53-page ruling, the Appeals Court ruled that it is “cruel and unusual punishment” to prevent camping on sidewalks or any public property, presumably even courthouse steps.

The last 36 pages of the ruling (first link) was a blistering dissent by circuit judge Patrick J. Bumatay. Here are some pertinent snips.

Today, we let stand an injunction permitting homeless persons to sleep anywhere, anytime in public in the City of San Francisco unless adequate shelter is provided. The district court’s sweeping injunction represents yet another expansion of our court’s cruel and unusual Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. Our decision is cruel because it leaves the citizens of San Francisco powerless to enforce their own health and safety laws without the permission of a federal judge. And it’s unusual because no other court in the country has interpreted the Constitution in this way.

Based on a misreading of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the district court now dictates to San Francisco how it may manage its sidewalks, streets, and parks. The result of the district court’s far reaching injunction is that homeless persons now have a choice to sleep, lie, or sit anywhere they want in public at any time until San Francisco can provide them shelter. That ruling is far removed from the original meaning of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause and disregards the long history of anti-vagrancy laws in this country. And the district court goes beyond even our circuit’s extraordinary reading of the Clause.

The Coalition on Homelessness sued San Francisco seeking to enjoin enforcement of State and local laws barring sleeping on sidewalks at certain times, public lodging and camping, and obstructing streets and parks. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 148(a), 370, 372, 647(e); S.F. Police Code §§ 168, 169. Based on an underdeveloped factual record, and apparently without even considering how these individual laws fit within our Martin/Grants Pass framework, the district court agreed to enjoin enforcement of the laws against “involuntarily homeless individuals.” Worse yet, the district court didn’t even define what it means to be “involuntarily homeless” and gave conflicting signals on the point—an issue we address in our concurrently filed memorandum disposition. To top it off, the district court then set a novel end date for the injunction. It continues “as long as there are more homeless individuals in San Francisco than there are shelter beds available.” Never mind that injunctions usually terminate at the end of litigation, or that the relief here is merely meant to be preliminary. This sweeping injunction has no basis in the Constitution or our precedent. San Francisco should not be treated as an experiment for judicial tinkering.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear the Case

Due to the overwhelming and unprecedented stupidity of the 9th Circuit ruling, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from local governments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix.

The Wall Street Journal noted that California Governor Gavin Newsom argued in a friend-of-court brief that “courts are not well-suited to micromanage such nuanced policy issues based on ill-defined rules.

The Journal’s comment is quite the hoot: “We look forward to Mr. Newsom’s constitutional communion with Justice Clarence Thomas.

The Hotel California Wealth Tax Advances, You Cannot Leave to Escape It

On January 10, I commented The Hotel California Wealth Tax Advances, You Cannot Leave to Escape It

Wealth Tax Details

  • The bill would impose an annual excise tax of 1.5% on the worldwide net worth of every full- and part-year California resident that exceeds $1 billion, starting this tax year.
  • Come Jan. 1, 2026, the state would tax wealth that exceeds $50 million at a rate of 1% each year, with an additional 0.5% tax on assets valued at more than $1 billion.
  • Part-time residents would be taxed on a pro rata share of their wealth based on the number of days they spend annually in California.
  • The tax would also apply to nonresidents who have recently left the state.
  • Democrats exempted real property from the tax as a favor to their high-end real-estate industry and Hollywood donors. 
  • To spread the wealth around to plaintiff-bar donors, the bill would apply the state’s False Claims Act to wealth-tax records and statements. This means plaintiff attorneys could sue affluent individuals on behalf of the state for allegedly under-reporting assets. Plaintiff attorneys would be entitled to a share of the state’s recovery.

If the wealth tax passes, I look forward to another mind meld of a different nature with the US Supreme Court.

Deep State To Remove Joe Biden At DNC In July

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