Disappointed Supreme Court Declined To Review Boise Opinion, Confident Court Will Have Future Opportunities For Broader Conversation; Clarity Needed With Disparity Between Current Laws And Their Interpretation
by Suzie A. Price
by Suzie A. Price
|LBREPORT.com invited comment from Councilwoman Suzie Price, who authored and agendized the Oct. 1, 2019 Long Beach City Council item that sought a Council-voted resolution supporting L.A. County's Friend of the Court brief seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of the 9th circuit's Boise opinion. On Dec. 16, the Supreme Court without comment declined review (meaning four its nine Justices didn't vote to hear the case); LBREPORT.com coverage here.).
(December 18, 2019, 6:15 a.m.) -- I was disappointed at the Supreme Court's decision not to take up the [Boise] case because I think we, as a nation, need to have an honest conversation about this issue. While homeless advocacy groups may think of this as a "win," I don't think that is the proper take away from the Supreme Court's decision not to take the case.
There is a lack of clarity that exists today between current laws and police enforcement options in regards to the same. In the city of Long Beach, for example, sleeping in the park or on the beach after hours is illegal. But, police can't really enforce the law because of the lack of beds, although with the winter shelter and the upcoming year round shelter, they won't have that limitation anymore.
Those who think the Boise decision standing is a win are missing the point. The conflict between the law and law enforcement tools continues to exist regardless of what the Supreme Court decided in regards to the Boise decision. The frustration of community members regarding the quality of life impacts won't go away and as a city, unless we change the laws regarding camping in public places and sleeping in cars, we will continue to struggle with how to best enforce the laws that are currently in existence.
If some elected officials don't like the laws we have, they should seek to change those specific laws. I doubt they will want to face the public outcry if they try to do that, however. The opposition to eliminating those laws is valid. I think there are serious public health and public safety reasons to keep those laws in effect. But then again, I have been a prosecutor for 20 years and have seen the health and safety dangers and realities associated with large scale encampments. Not everyone has been witness to that reality.
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So, we have a situation where there are laws in place that can only be enforced by the law enforcement if certain, non-law enforcement conditions are met. That is a very odd state of affairs and it will need to be resolved.
Maybe the Supreme Court won't take the issue up with the Boise case, but I guarantee you that they will have more opportunities to engage in the broader conversation. It's coming their way one way or another because the public, policy makers, health care professional, social workers and law enforcement need clarity. This problem is huge and getting worse with the disparity between the existing laws and judicial interpretation of the same.
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