Yesterday, Kenneth Michael Hoyt, Senior United States District Judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, ruled in favor of the City of Houston’s anti-homelessness ordinance violating people’s constitutional rights enacted by Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Hoyt was appointed to this position in 1987 by Ronald Reagan.
Earlier this year, Houston passed an ordinance that bans tents and other habitation structures on public property, and requires that personal belongings kept on public property fit inside a three-foot cube. On May 16, 2017 ACLU filed a lawsuit citing that the ordinance violates the people’s the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Specifically, yesterday’s decision permits the police to ticket or arrest homeless people who live in a tent on public property.
“Our clients are now at risk of being arrested just for being homeless. They have nowhere else to go,” said Trisha Trigilio, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas.
“Sheltering yourself is not a crime, it is a basic human need, and our clients will continue to fight for the dignity and the rights of Houston’s homeless population. In the meantime, and in the spirit of the season, we have called on the City to delay enforcement until they seriously explore humane alternatives to arrest—like building more affordable housing.”
Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner — who is a Democrat — enacted this ordinance and is likely calling this a victory. In essence, both Republicans and Democrats will be calling this a “win” in stripping the homeless from their constitutional rights.
[UPDATE, 2:14pm, Dec. 29: The ruling was for the temporary restraining order issued. Lawyers requested that a temporary restraining order be put on the ordinance and Hoyt denied it, continuing the violation of constitutional rights; the lawsuit continues.]
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