Gavin Newsom praises Supreme Court decision allowing cities to prohibit homeless people from sleeping in public spaces

California Gov. Gavin Newsom praised a split decision by the Supreme Court to allow cities to prohibit homeless people from sleeping and camping in public spaces.

The 6-3 decision overturns a lower court order that called such prohibitions unconstitutional violations of the Eighth Amendment.

‘Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime.’

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion that included the conservative justices on the court.

“Homelessness is complex. Its causes are many. So may be the public policy responses required to address it,” he wrote. “A handful of federal judges cannot begin to ‘match’ the collective wisdom the American people possess in deciding ‘how best to handle’ a pressing social question like homelessness.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the minority dissent opinion.

“Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime,” she wrote. “For some people, sleeping outside is their only option.”

She went on to call some city actions against the homeless “unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

The National Homeless Law Center condemned the ruling and said it would make the homeless crisis worse.

“In a profoundly disappointing ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that the US Constitution does not protect homeless people against cruel and unusual punishment, even when they have no choice to sleep in public using things like blankets or pillows,” read its statement in part.

“Arresting or fining people for trying to survive is expensive, counterproductive, and cruel,” it continued. “While we are disappointed, we are not surprised that this Supreme Court ruled against the interests of our poorest neighbors.”

‘The definitive authority to implement and enforce policies to clear unsafe homeless encampments.’

While homeless advocates were aghast at the decision, Newsom said it would allow cities to better govern their public spaces.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass provides state and local officials the definitive authority to implement and enforce policies to clear unsafe homeless encampments and helps us deliver common-sense measures to protect the safety and well-being of our communities,” he wrote on social media.

Other California Democrats agreed.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a media briefing that the order would allow the city to be more aggressive in taking action against homeless encampments.

On the other hand, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, also a Democrat, criticized the ruling and scolded cities who were trying to “arrest their way out of this problem or hide the homelessness crisis in neighboring cities or in jail.”

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