On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would not review City of Boise vs. Martin, a 2018 ruling handed down by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In Martin, the appeals court struck down prohibitions on sleeping and camping in public that the Idaho city had enacted to address homelessness. Boise’s ordinances did not pass constitutional muster, according to the 9th Circuit, because they inflicted “cruel and unusual punishment” on that city’s homeless population.
By allowing Martin to stand, the Supreme Court leaves local officials powerless to stop the expansion of homeless encampments. In many West Coast cities, the burgeoning number of tents have left sidewalks in some neighborhoods awash in trash, human waste and used needles and have led to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as hepatitis A and C and rodent infestations.
But as notorious as the homeless crises of Los Angeles and San Francisco are, the consequences of the Martin ruling are most ominous for cities like Boise.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal.
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