City Attorney David Chiu

Ninth Circuit vacates part of injunction in homeless encampment lawsuit

The order brings San Francisco’s case in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Grants Pass and will allow San Francisco to enforce its laws regulating public camping

SAN FRANCISCO (July 8, 2024) — City Attorney David Chiu issued the following statement today after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order vacating portions of the preliminary injunction in Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco. The Ninth Circuit’s order brings San Francisco’s litigation in line with the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, which found that enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” barred by the Eighth Amendment.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

The Ninth Circuit panel vacated the portions of the preliminary injunction order related to the Eighth Amendment, which prevents the City from enforcing several laws that prohibit sitting, lying, sleeping, and lodging on public property. The Court left intact the portion of the preliminary injunction order related to the Fourth Amendment, which requires the City to follow its bag-and-tag policy when dealing with unhoused peoples’ possessions.

“We appreciate that the Ninth Circuit panel took quick action to ensure the preliminary injunction in San Francisco is in line with the Supreme Court’s decision in Grants Pass,” said City Attorney David Chiu. “This will give our City more flexibility to provide services to unhoused people while keeping our streets healthy and safe. It will help us address our most challenging encampments, where services are often refused and re-encampment is common.”

The Ninth Circuit is expected to issue its mandate and return the case to the District Court in the next several weeks. At that time, the portions of the preliminary injunction order related to the Eighth Amendment will no longer be in effect.

The case is Coalition on Homelessness, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, et al., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 23-15087. The Ninth Circuit’s order can be found here.