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Law & Justice

Homeless Advocates: U.S. Supreme Court Should Reject Boise Ordinance Appeal

homeless, sign
Emilie Ritter Saunders
Boise State Public Radio

Lawyers representing several homeless people are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a request from the city of Boise to review the legality of its anti-camping ordinance.

The case has been bouncing around the federal court system for more than a decade.

Most recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called Boise’s camping ban unconstitutional. The city ordinance bars anyone from sleeping outside when shelter space is available.

Advocates say some homeless people aren’t allowed into some shelters, even though they report to the city that they have space. 

One Christian-affiliated shelter requires its guests to go to religious classes after a certain period of time and kicks them out if they don’t attend. 

Boise says it needs the ordinance to keep city streets safe and clean and that the 9th Circuit’s decision will be “far-reaching and catastrophic.”

Lawyers representing homeless folks who have gotten tickets under the ordinance say the city is distorting facts and that it can enforce the ordinance when shelters aren’t full.

“…a city that criminalizes both sleeping on private property and public property when no alternative shelter is available leaves a homeless individual who cannot obtain shelter with no capacity to comply with the law,” they wrote.

Dozens of other interested groups, like states, cities and nonprofits, have filed briefs on behalf of Boise in the case, also urging the nation’s highest court to take up the case.

Some states have argued the 9th Circuit’s ruling violates their 10th Amendment rights to create and enforce their own laws. Other municipalities have said it’ll only continue to fuel the expansion of homeless camps within their borders.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to consider the case over the next few months.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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