Former President Obama's administration came to an end in January, 2017, but what’s little known or discussed is how a decision made by his administration has adversely affected the quality of life in those cities within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, mainly the western states (including California), and how that impact is still being felt today.
A little background.
In the past, we’ve discussed the 9th Circuit’s ruling in Martin v. City of Boise (see Potatoes and the 9th Circuit), an extremely bad decision by a liberal 3-judge panel on that bench, two of whom were appointed by Obama (the 3rd was a Bill Clinton appointee).
In a nutshell, the ruling held that the city of Boise could not enforce its anti-camping ordinance (similar to the ordinance passed last year by Manhattan Beach’s City Council) when applied to the homeless unless the city can provide an alternative shelter.
That ruling also applies to California and all its cities. But, with California being home to a quarter of the nation’s homeless, shelter space is at a premium so it's difficult for any city to meet that requirement for enforcement which is part of the reason why we see homeless encampments springing up everywhere here.
In fact, a recent town hall meeting in El Segundo by Congressman Ted Lieu who represents California’s 33rd District in the US House of Representatives (which covers most of western Los Angeles, including the Beach Cities) illustrates the problem.
Besides not addressing any of the pointed questions from MB SAFE, a local group dedicated to finding solutions to homelessness, Lieu essentially threw up his hands when asked about the mounting homeless crisis in his district where it seems every attempt to curb illegal homeless encampments in places like Venice and Santa Monica is met by legal challenges, or threats of same, from homeless advocates like the ACLU and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP).
And let’s not kid ourselves that we are somehow immune from all this here in the comfort of Manhattan Beach.
When asked about the newly-enacted Manhattan Beach anti-camping ordinance last year, Eric Tars, a senior attorney with NLCHP (and one of the homeless plaintiffs' attorneys in the Boise case), said his organization monitors cities such as Manhattan Beach to see if they're continuing to enforce such ordinances and that legal action would be considered.
With the recent efforts to reserve shelter bed space for Manhattan Beach’s homeless in the Salvation Army facility in the City of Bell coming up empty, Manhattan Beach appears unable to offer a shelter bed option at present.
Thus, we find ourselves, like a lot of municipalities in California, in the unenviable position of technically not being able to enforce our own anti-camping ordinance without running afoul of the Boise decision and social justice warriors like Mr. Tars who are just itching to sue at the first issuance of an anti-camping citation.So what does this have to do with the Obama administration, besides the fact that Obama hand-picked two of the three liberal justices responsible for the Boise decision?
Well, back in 2015 when the Boise case was first heard at the Federal District Court level, it was the Obama Department of Justice that filed a "friend of the court" legal brief (also called an amicus brief) in favor of the homeless plaintiffs.
While the plaintiffs lost at the District level, they eventually prevailed on appeal in the 9th Circuit on essentially the same legal theory that was set out in the DOJ's amicus brief.
So not only did a liberal 3-judge panel with two Obama appointees basically rule against any city in the western US that tries to enforce an anti-camping ordinance against homeless encampments, it did so based on the legal theory propounded by Obama's DOJ! Gee, thanks Obama for your gift that keeps on giving.
The sliver of good news is the city of Boise is appealing that ruling to the US Supreme Court and the Manhattan Beach City Council, along with numerous other California cities, has said it would side with Boise in a separate "friend of the court" brief (see Because When You Gotta Go...).
Maybe we should keep all this on the down-low when speaking with certain liberals on the MB City Council. We don't want them having a change of heart should they learn who was on the other side of this case in the lower courts.
Like our blog posts? Get them in newsletter fashion in your inbox by signing up here.