Despite the best efforts of San Francisco liberals to punish destitute homeless people on their streets, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a mandate that the most vulnerable cannot be further persecuted.
The recent decision of the high court — with regard to a Boise, Idaho, case — to support an earlier 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that allows homeless people to sleep on city sidewalks has effectively turned the sanctuary city into a gigantic homeless shelter. Bay Area liberal politicians have been fighting to protect illegal immigrants with criminal records from deportation. These West Coast Democrats have passed laws blocking cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and give foreigners billions in taxpayer-funded welfare benefits.
Their poorly conceived economic policies have destroyed affordable housing opportunities for low-income families and deny basic needs to mentally challenged and opioid-addicted Americans. The San Francisco response to the homeless epidemic the failed leadership created was to punish penniless Americans with citations and arrest for having no place to live.
In the previous ruling the U.S. Supreme Court let stand, Judge Marsha Berzon decreed, “Just as the state may not criminalize the state of being homeless in public places, the state may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless — namely sitting, lying or sleeping on the streets.” Therefore, punishing through fines or arrest the obvious “consequence” of being homeless is off the table.
San Francisco and other West Coast cities with overwhelming numbers brokered a deal to not enforce the penalties on homeless people overnight following the initial ruling. With the high court applying it again, the streets belong to the homeless 24-7. San Francisco has a fast-rising homeless population of more than 8,000, and only enough shelters and effective outreach for only about one-third within the city limits.
According to recent reports, upwards of 18 percent of residents have no roof over their heads, and the city has wastefully spent $300 million to not even remotely solve the problem. When adding in the number of people living in cars and RVs, some estimate that nearly 45 percent are homeless for all intents and purposes.
“I’m really disappointed in these numbers,” San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing official Jeff Kositsky said. “I can make no excuses. These numbers are bad, and we have to own that. The problem of people living in vehicles is increasing at an alarming rate.”
When looking at the two counties that comprise the “Bay Area,” the trend looks frighteningly worse. Homelessness in Santa Clara rose by 31 percent in the last two years, and Alameda soared by 43 percent. Other Democrat strongholds such as Los Angeles have upwards of 60,000 homeless people surviving in filthy street conditions. All told, the number of people living on city streets in California is already beyond crisis. The high court’s recent ruling is expected to exacerbate the issue because it ties law enforcement’s hands to clear city parks, storefronts, and residential neighborhoods.
Political pundits on both sides of the aisle have been critical of the U.S. Supreme Court’s position that the consequences of homelessness cannot be penalized. Conservative lightening rod Ben Shapiro penned an op-ed that accuses liberal judges of creating public policy from the bench.
“As it is, the Supreme Court has damned America’s major cities to the continuation of the festering problem of homelessness,” Shapiro stated. “And that problem won’t be solved by judges who attempt to force social policy through deliberately misreading the Constitution, or who believe they are championing ‘freedom’ for tens of thousands of Americans who are severely mentally ill or addicted to drugs.”
Shapiro has long been a fierce critic of failed left-leaning policies, such as the ones causing economic hardship and not addressing mental health conditions. But allowing Democrat-run cities to now pivot and incarcerate the very victims of government failures would only embolden liberals.
“As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors,” Judge Berzon wrote. “The government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other Democrat-run cities will now see the results of their indignant illegal immigrants-first and Americans-last policies in broad daylight. Perhaps facing the poverty and despair they sowed will prompt change.