NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 18, 2006

In Jones v. City of Los Angeles, a panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 last week that the city had gone too far in letting police remove the homeless from its streets.

The court said the city's policy violates the Constitution's Eighth Amendment. Unless you find them beds in a shelter, the court said, arresting or removing homeless people from the street is both "cruel and unusual" -- even if they're a threat to public safety.

According to Investor's Business Daily (IBD):

  • The court's decision has no constitutional basis and undermines cities' ability to deal with a growing problem on their streets.
  • It also suggests that the court -- not voters or their duly elected political representatives -- has the right to decide how the problem should be solved.

Sadly, says IBD, the Jones case is just another in a long line of bizarre decisions handed by the out-of-control 9th. Among them:

  • In 2002, in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, the 9th declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it contained the word "God."
  • In 2003, a three-judge panel temporarily halted California's recall election, in response to a spurious complaint from the ACLU about voting methods and despite having no legal justification or precedent for doing so.
  • In 2005, in Fields v. Palmdale School District, the court allowed schools to give first, third and fifth graders sexually explicit questionnaires, despite angry objections from parents.

According to IBD, this circuit is out of control. Its bad judgments, founded in judicial activism, are often simply unjustifiable by law or common sense.

Source: Editorial, "The New Untouchables," April 18, 2006.


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