Constitutional Law

9th Circuit considers law that bans homeless people from living in their cars

A federal appeals court on Thursday appeared to side with homeless advocates in a challenge to a Los Angeles law that bars people from living in their vehicles on public streets and parking lots.

City lawyer Blithe Bock faced tough questioning in oral arguments before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bock is defending the law against a claim that it is unconstitutionally vague.

Judge Harry Pregerson questioned Bock about the standards for determining whether someone was using his or her vehicle as a living quarters, according to the newspaper account. Pregerson asked if it was illegal to nod off while sitting in your parked car. Bock mentioned that one of the plaintiffs was found wrapped in a blanket. “What’s wrong with that?” Pregerson asked.

At another point Pregerson asked Bock why Los Angeles didn’t follow the lead of Long Beach, which tries to get housing for homeless families and enrolls their children in school. Bock replied that the situation may be heartbreaking, but the response is a decision for legislators.

“That’s a cop-out,” Pregerson said.

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