Assembly Republicans Call on Legislature to File Amicus Brief in Homeless Encampment Case

“The unchecked crime, addiction and mental illness on our streets need to stop.”

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assembly Republicans called on Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to direct the Office of Legislative Counsel to file an amicus brief on behalf of the California State Legislature urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an effort to overturn the decision in Martin v. Boise, which restricts local governments from clearing homeless encampments unless adequate shelter space is available. The current case, City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, asks the Supreme Court to determine that the enforcement of laws prohibiting camping on public property should not be considered cruel and unusual punishment. 

Allowing the enforcement of vagrancy laws will eliminate a barrier that too many have relied on to justify and excuse their failures to address the homelessness crisis. Overturning Boise will allow officials to focus on other drivers of homelessness, including a failed “housing first” policy, soaring housing costs, inadequate mental health treatment and a failure to enforce common-sense drug and public nuisance laws. 

California needs to be all-in on ending the human devastation we’re seeing throughout our state,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City). “The unchecked crime, addiction and mental illness on our streets need to stop. It’s time to clear these encampments and eliminate open air drug markets – overturning Boise will be a critical step in that effort.” 

Assembly Republicans are urging Speaker Rivas and Pro Tem Atkins to act quickly, as the deadline for submission of amicus briefs for this case is approaching. 

Earlier this year, at the direction of Democratic leadership, the Legislature filed a lawsuit seeking to disenfranchise millions of California voters by having an initiative to limit tax increases thrown off the November 2024 ballot. The effort to resolve the homelessness crisis should merit a similar level of attention and resources. 

The letter to Speaker Rivas and Pro Tem Atkins is available here