Law

Supreme Court leaves ban on LA taking homeless people's stuff

The Supreme Court today without comment let stand a lower-court ruling that blocked Los Angeles officials from collecting and disposing of the belongings of homeless people that are left temporarily on sidewalks and streets. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously decided that possessions could be taken only if they posed an immediate threat to public health or were evidence of a crime, and that the city must give owners a chance to reclaim any stuff that is collected. A lawsuit by eight Skid Row inhabitants had accused city crews and police of confiscating personal possessions such as IDs, medications and cellphones.

Today's rulings also struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the court saying in a 5-to-4 decision that Congress had not provided adequate justification for subjecting nine states, mostly in the South, to federal oversight. Chief Justice John Roberts said in the majority opinion that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. When the law was last renewed, in 2006, Congress relied on data from decades before.

The court said that tomorrow would be its last day of the session, so it's expected there will be a decision on California's same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, and on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.


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