Boise lawsuit rejected by SCOTUS to ticket homeless 

BoiseKaitlin Cunningham, Staff Writer


In Boise, Idaho, the Idaho Supreme Court rejected a proposal to have a case on homelessness heard, which has ordered the state of Idaho to change how they approach the problem of homelessness. It is not uncommon for the Supreme Court to turn down pleadings to hear cases, as the Supreme Court for the term of 2019-2020 has agreed to hear 73 cases.

While that might seem like a high number, out of thousands of applications, only 73 will be accepted to be heard. The rest will be given a quick decision or a dismissal, which makes the previous court’s decision stand. In this case, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals covers the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and Arizona.

The problem started when the state of Idaho was having trouble handling the homelessness problem that is prevalent in many states nowadays. The police in Idaho were ordered to ticket homeless people who were setting up camp outside and along roadways.

In Idaho, there was a city ordinance that prohibited homeless camps to be set up outside of homeless shelters. This became a problem because the people who were being given tickets and citations had very few options as to where to stay the night, besides a shelter, which has a limit on how long a person may sleep there. With nowhere to go each night, they would set up camps outside and receive another citation by the police.

A few people who are homeless filed a lawsuit after the citations became too many to handle. This originally was filed about a decade ago, and since then, the process of receiving help from the rulings of the court has been a slow but steady process. Originally the court ruled that homeless people could only sleep or camp outside on the condition that the shelters were full. This was overturned because with this ruling it gave the implication that the homeless were at fault for not being able to have a home to sleep in. The case was heard by the 9th circuit court who came to the conclusion that the state’s approach to the issue on homelessness became an issue due to its being ruled as unconstitutional. 

The 9th circuit court decided that ticketing people for being homeless outside of the homeless shelter was cruel and unusual punishment which strictly violates the eighth amendment. Of course, this means that the state of Idaho would be forced to change their laws and procedures for handling issues of homelessness. Since this has already been a decade long lawsuit, although the courts rule in their favor, this would be a decade past the time that the homeless members of this lawsuit were repeatedly cited. 

The U.S. Supreme Court refusing to admit this pleading means that the decision made by the 9th circuit courts almost a year ago stands. Citing homeless members of Idaho for camping outside is unconstitutional and Idaho will have to change its city ordinance codes in cooperation with the court’s decision.  


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