San Diego joins Grants Pass in lawsuit, hopes SCOTUS will review case

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– The San Diego City Council voted to join a lawsuit by the City of Grants Pass regarding criminalizing sleeping in public places.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also wrote a brief asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied a re-hearing of the case earlier this month.

This comes after the court ruled against the City of Grants Pass last year.

Grants Pass City Attorney Augustus Ogu said, “it’s really nice to have this support from a lot of different individuals from a lot of different political persuasions.”

Grants Pass is still hopeful the Supreme Court will overturn two court cases that have set the precedent on homelessness for many cities.

Martin v. Boise and Grants Pass v. Johnson have prevented cities from punishing people from sleeping in public spaces when they have no where else to go.

The City of San Diego recently voted to join Grants Pass in its lawsuit, although many residents disapproved of that decision.

San Diego resident John Brady said, “this is the last protection. Martin v. Boise is the last thing that’s holding anybody back from going even more ballistic and making it worse.”

Since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals already denied a re-hearing of the case, Grants Pass hopes the Supreme Court will take a look at it.

With the Supreme Court session starting next week, California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote a brief encouraging SCOTUS to provide some clarity.

Newsom on the 9th Circuit Court’s decision:

“It provides no answers, for example, to questions about the hours during which a city may prohibit sleeping in public, or about whether a person experiencing homelessness has a right to select one location over another, or about who bears the burden of establishing that a particular person is experiencing homelessness voluntarily.”

The Grants Pass City Attorney said they would rather see the cases overturned entirely rather than clarify the 9th Circuit ruling.

But he believes the support from San Diego and Newsom signifies how important these cases are.

Ogu said, “in effect, the federal courts have wrestled control away from local cities to deal with homelessness in their own individual ways and it’s something that probably needs to be dealt with through the democratic process.”

The City of Grants Pass is hopeful the court will hear oral arguments on the case late this year or early next year.

It also hopes the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the summer of 2024.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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