On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court granted cities more power to arrest, cite and fine people who sleep outside in public places, overturning legal protections for homeless residents across the states including California.

In a 6-3 decision, the high court overturned a San Francisco appeals court ruling that had deemed outdoor sleeping bans to be a,  “form of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.” The majority concluded that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit enforcement of such bans.

The case originated from Grants Pass, Oregon, which appealed a decision invalidating local ordinances for sleeping outdoors as tents increasingly occupied public parks. Since 2018, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over nine Western states, had maintained that such bans violate the Eighth Amendment in areas lacking adequate shelter accommodations.


City officials locally and abroad have cited that the previous ruling hindered efforts to manage outdoor encampments that were encroaching on sidewalks and other public spaces in nine Western states, particularly here in California, where a third of the nation’s homeless population resides. As a result of Friday’s decision, the Folsom Police Department plans to “immediately resume’ its enforcement efforts when it comes to laws under city’s municipal code 9.100.030, according to Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman who spoke with Folsom Times shortly after the Supreme Court announcement Friday morning. 

“I am happy to hear of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Grants Pass case,” said Hillman. “Homelessness is a complex issue, and communities need all the tools they can get to help combat the growing problem.  Law enforcement is only one element of lessening homelessness. Still, since the Martin v. Boise and the Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson cases, law enforcement’s efforts have been hampered.”


The Supreme Court’s decision comes amid a significant increase in U.S. homelessness, which rose by 12% last year to its highest recorded levels. Factors contributing to this increase include escalating rents and reductions in pandemic-related housing assistance, exacerbating housing insecurity for many individuals. California has seen the largest growth in homelessness across as of the latest report.

Regionally, Folsom has experienced a significant growth in its homeless population. In the latest count, the city went up in its reported homeless population, while neighboring cities that were once higher went down in numbers, including Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights and Sacramento.


“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court allows law enforcement to resume enforcing anti-camping ordinances.   Our Folsom Municipal Code (9.100.030) is in line with the Court’s decision, so enforcement efforts by our police department will immediately resume,” Hillman said. 


Last Tuesday, Folsom City council moved to adopt the city’s 2024-25 Fiscal Year budget. Within the approval, city leaders gave the greenlight to an additional staffing to the Folsom Police Department which will enable them to not only serve the city as a whole better, but to strengthen its Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). Moving forward, Hillman says the courts decision gives his department a vital tool for enforcement.

“Just this week, our City Council approved a budget that included the addition of six police officers and the implementation of a Homeless Outreach Team.  Our Homeless Outreach Team will begin Monday, July 1st, and will be staffed with a sergeant and two officers,” said Hillman. “The Team will now have another tool to force compliance, hopefully encouraging those experiencing homelessness to take advantage of the many options and assistance available to them.”


The Folsom Police Department does not work solo when it comes to addressing homeless issues. The department works closely with local organizations such has HART of Folsom, Jake’s Journey Home and others in an effort to assist individuals with finding and utilizing resources. The department will continue to rely on these organizations moving forward as well in its enforcement efforts. 

After the announcement of the ruling Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom also shared his thoughts. Newsom praised the high court for its decision in the case.

“This decision removes the legal ambiguities that have tied the hands of local officials for years and limited their ability to deliver on common-sense measures to protect the safety and well-being of our communities,” Newsom said in a statement.: