San Diego And Grants Pass Make Strange Bedfellows

In a surprising turn of events, the San Diego City Council has decided to join a lawsuit initiated by the City of Grants Pass. The lawsuit challenges the criminalization of sleeping in public places, a situation often faced by the homeless population.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has also shown interest in the case, submitting a brief to the Supreme Court urging them to review it. This comes after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied a re-hearing of the case.

The City of Grants Pass lost a previous ruling on this issue, but remains hopeful that the Supreme Court will overturn two precedent-setting cases, Martin v. Boise and Grants Pass v. Johnson. These cases currently prevent cities from penalizing individuals for sleeping in public spaces when they have no other options.

Despite some opposition from its residents, the City of San Diego has chosen to support Grants Pass in its lawsuit. This decision underscores the complexity and nationwide relevance of the issue.

Governor Newsom’s brief to the Supreme Court seeks clarity on several aspects of the 9th Circuit Court’s decision, including the specifics of when and where sleeping in public is permissible, and who is responsible for determining whether an individual is voluntarily homeless.

The City Attorney of Grants Pass, Augustus Ogu, expressed a preference for the cases to be overturned entirely rather than merely clarifying the 9th Circuit ruling. He believes that the support from San Diego and Governor Newsom highlights the significance of these cases.

Ogu also voiced concern that federal courts have usurped local cities’ ability to address homelessness in ways that are most appropriate for their specific circumstances. He advocates for a democratic process to resolve these issues.

The City of Grants Pass is optimistic that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the case in the near future, with a ruling expected by the summer of 2024.