by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
How bad is the tyranny of leftist judges appointed by Democrats to the federal bench in Western states? So bad that the Democratic mayor of San Francisco held a rally outside the city’s federal courthouse to protest one of the 9th Circuit’s recent decisions on homelessness.
We have called on the Supreme Court to reverse the 9th Circuit’s homelessness insanity before, and after a three-judge appeals court panel of that circuit upheld a lower court decision last Thursday, the Supreme Court finally acted on Friday, announcing it would hear the case of City of Grants Pass v. Johnson.
Homelessness has been rising in Western states for decades, but the problem became much harder to handle after 2018, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals created a constitutional right to vagrancy. In Martin v. Boise, six residents of Boise, Idaho, claimed the city’s camping and disorderly conduct ordinances, which made it a misdemeanor to camp or sleep on public property without permission, violated their Eighth Amendment right not to be subject to cruel or unusual punishment.
“As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter,” the 9th Circuit wrote.
Since that Martin decision, cities throughout the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction have found it next to impossible to clear homeless encampments because any action taken by law enforcement authorities must be carefully micromanaged by a federal judge — and usually a far-left federal judge appointed by Democrats. As a direct result, the homeless population in Western states has exploded to the point that almost half of all the nation’s homeless people are under the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction.