Connect with us

New Hampshire

In wake of Supreme Court homelessness decision, NH advocates say fight not over • New Hampshire Bulletin

Published

on

In wake of Supreme Court homelessness decision, NH advocates say fight not over • New Hampshire Bulletin


The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month to allow an Oregon city’s efforts to clear out homeless encampments is already rippling through New Hampshire.

On July 2, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to strengthen a ban on camping on city property, subjecting people to fines. And the board removed an exception that had allowed camping during evening hours if there were not enough shelter beds available.

The vote, which will make it easier for city officials to remove encampments on public sidewalks and parks, was a priority for Mayor Jay Ruais, a Republican who was elected in November. And it heralds a potential shift in the way New Hampshire cities and towns approach homelessness after the Supreme Court ruling, critics say.

In the case, City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, the court ruled along ideological lines, 6-3, that the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not prevent a municipality from evicting homeless people from public spaces – and that there is no requirement that those municipalities secure adequate shelter housing for them before carrying out such an eviction. 

Advertisement

But even as cities like Manchester move toward enforcement actions, the ACLU and other New Hampshire civil rights groups say there are still avenues to stop those actions in state law. And they have urged cities and towns to move cautiously and humanely.

“We continue to warn New Hampshire officials and law enforcement that efforts to criminalize the unhoused may still violate the New Hampshire Constitution – and we’ll be watching,” Henry Klementowicz, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, said in a statement. 

A dramatic shift

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a major swing in policy for cities like Manchester. Before last month, many municipalities and states followed the lead of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision: Martin v. Boise

In that decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held that it would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment for a government body to force out a homeless person from a public property if there were no reasonable alternatives for that person to find shelter. 

Evictions could happen only if beds or shelter were available to those who were being evicted, the Ninth Circuit held.

Advertisement

The decision did not have direct legal power over New Hampshire, which is under the jurisdiction of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. But it still influenced homelessness policy, noted Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU, in an interview.

After Martin v. Boise, cities and towns were more cautious when it came to eviction attempts, Bissonnette said. And city councilors in Manchester passed the ordinance that allowed camping in public spaces when there is no shelter space available.

“Many cities and towns – though that’s not binding in New Hampshire – were basically applying that principle, and I think to their credit,” Bissonnette said. “Saying ‘we’re not going to cite people or evict people from public places unless there is some shelter space available.’”

Manchester’s ordinance did not prevent all evictions. In January, the city removed a homeless encampment on a sidewalk, in a move that was later upheld by the Hillsborough County Superior Court after the judge found there was adequate shelter elsewhere. But the ordinance did require more deliberation and care, advocates say. 

The Grants Pass decision struck a fatal blow to the Martin v. Boise precedent. In it, conservative justices directly rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that evicting someone without offering an alternative housing option is unconstitutional.

Advertisement

After the board of aldermen vote, Ruais hailed the change, arguing in a statement that it would allow the city to “make our streets safe, clean, and passable.” But he vowed to address homelessness in other areas. 

“We must address this challenge in a comprehensive way, and we have already undertaken 11 initiatives to address the underlying drivers of homelessness and the need for more affordable housing in our city,” he said. 

Continuing the fight

As some housing advocates privately worry about large-scale clearouts, Bissonnette says he believes such actions could still be challenged. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the U.S. Constitution, the state constitution could still prevent similar evictions, he says. 

New Hampshire has its own version of the Eighth Amendment. Article 33 of Part I of the state constitution states that: “No Magistrate, or Court of Law, shall demand excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict cruel or unusual punishments.” 

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments,” the state constitution uses the word “or,” Bissonnette said, which could make it easier to apply. 

Advertisement

“We have always taken the position that our state constitution provides more protections than the Eighth Amendment,” Bissonnette said.

And he noted that at least one superior court judge appears to agree. When Manchester attempted to clear out homeless people on Pine and Manchester streets in January, the ACLU and New Hampshire Legal Assistance sued the city in an attempt to get an injunction to stop the action. 

Judge John C. Kissinger ultimately rejected that attempt, but in his order he also stated: “If there were no safe alternatives available, the Court would agree that forced removal of the encampment would likely violate the State and federal constitutional rights of the people residing in the encampment.” 

In that case, Kissinger held that there had been safe alternatives, pointing to the city’s contention that month that 31 beds were available at the Cashin Senior Activity Center and three beds at a facility run by Families in Transition, and that a warming shelter was available at the 1269 Café.

But legal rights groups say Kissinger’s order could open the door to applying Article 33 against homeless evictions in cases where there weren’t enough shelter beds. The Grants Pass decision does not apply to the state constitution.

Advertisement

It is unclear how the state Supreme Court might rule on the Article 33 argument. In the meantime, legal groups are increasing their political appeals. 

In a letter sent shortly before the July 2 board of aldermen vote, the ACLU and NHLA urged Manchester to show restraint, and wrote that incarcerating homeless people “only fuels mass incarceration, keeping people in an endless cycle of poverty, and institutionalization.”

“Whatever the United States Supreme Court may say about the Eighth Amendment, elected officials have always had a choice,” the letter states. “They can decide to invest in solutions – like safe, long-term housing and low-barrier shelters, as well as wraparound services and voluntary mental health and substance use treatment – which will increase people’s chances of obtaining employment and housing.”

Ruais and others say they are moving forward intentionally and humanely.

“If an individual wants and needs help, it is available,” he said in a statement. “However, anyone choosing to ignore our ordinances or break the law, will be subject to the applicable legal consequences.” 

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New Hampshire

NH Lottery paying out two sets of prizes after Pick 3, Pick 4 error

Published

on

NH Lottery paying out two sets of prizes after Pick 3, Pick 4 error


CONCORD — Due to an error, New Hampshire Lottery announced it is paying out prizes for two sets of numbers in its Saturday, July 20 Evening Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings,

On Saturday night, NH Lottery’s announced, a vendor for the drawings entered incorrect winning numbers for the July 20, Evening Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings. NH Lottery stated it soon after alerted its vendor, which made the correction.

The error that occurred was the Pick 3 Day and Pick 4 Day winning numbers were re-entered for the evening drawings. They were 8-3-5 and 5-7-3-8.

Advertisement

The correct winning numbers for the July 20, Evening drawings were 8-5-4 for Pick 3 and 3-4-3-2 for Pick 4.

The NH Lottery announced it will pay prizes on both sets of numbers for the Saturday, July 20 Evening drawings.

Winning tickets of $599 and less bearing the Pick 3 numbers of 8-3-5 and Pick 4 numbers of 5-7-3-8 may be validated and paid at any NH Lottery retailer, officials announced. Players who have winning tickets, regardless of prize amount for the Pick 3 numbers of 8-5-4 and Pick 4 numbers of 3-4-3-2 must mail or come to Lottery headquarters for ticket validation and prize payment.

For information, call NH Lottery on Monday at 603-271-3391 or go to nhlottery.com.

Advertisement

More local news: Hampton woman faces charges for firing gun at neighbor’s front door



Source link

Continue Reading

New Hampshire

New Hampshire governor signs bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports

Published

on

New Hampshire governor signs bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports


Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire has signed a bill that would ban transgender athletes in grades 5-12 from teams that align with their gender identity, adding the state to nearly half in the nation that adopted similar measures.

The bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature would require schools to designate all teams as either girls, boys or coed, with eligibility determined based on students’ birth certificates “or other evidence.” Supporters of the legislation said they wanted to protect girls from being injured by larger and stronger transgender athletes.

Sununu signed the bill Friday, saying in a statement it “ensures fairness and safety in women’s sports by maintaining integrity and competitive balance in athletic competitions.” It takes effect in 30 days.

Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-New Hampshire, a union representing public school employees, criticized Sununu.

Advertisement

“Public schools should be safe, welcoming environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said in a statement. “Shame on Governor Sununu for signing into law this legislation that excludes students from athletics, which can help foster a sense of belonging that is so critical for young people to thrive.”

Sununu also signed a bill Friday that would ban gender-affirming surgeries for transgender minors. That takes effect on Jan. 1, 2025. The care has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.

“This bill focuses on protecting the health and safety of New Hampshire’s children and has earned bipartisan support,” Sununu wrote.

Sununu vetoed another measure that would have allowed public and private entities to differentiate on the basis of “biological sex” in multiperson bathrooms and locker rooms, athletic events and detention facilities. Sununu noted a law enacted in 2018, that banned discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing based on gender identity. He said the challenge with the current bill “is that in some cases it seeks to solve problems that have not presented themselves in New Hampshire, and in doing so, invites unnecessary discord.”



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

New Hampshire

New Hampshire governor signs bill banning transgender girls from womens’ sports

Published

on

New Hampshire governor signs bill banning transgender girls from womens’ sports


New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed legislation Friday that prohibits transgender girls from competing on school athletics teams that match their gender identity while also approving another bill that bans gender reassignment surgery for minors.

Sununu also vetoed a bill that would have permitted some businesses and government entities to restrict bathroom access to individuals on the basis of biological sex.

New Hampshire HB1205 requires schools to use a student’s biological sex at birth when determining eligibility for participation in youth sports. Schools would be required to use a birth certificate “issued at or near the time of the student’s birth.” Students who provide birth certificates that do not list the sex of the student would be required to provide other evidence of their biological sex at the time of birth at their own expense. The law leaves designated coed sports and activities untouched but creates a cause of action for students who have been “deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffer[ed]…direct or indirect harm as a result of a school knowingly violating [the bill].” The law applies to sports from grades 5-12.

The second bill, HB619, bans gender reassignment surgery for minors but leaves exceptions for reconstruction or removal surgeries to address “malformations, malignancy, injury, or physical disease” as well as male circumcisions.

Advertisement

The bill Sununu vetoed, HB 396, would have rolled back protections enacted in 2018 that specifically addressed discrimination based on biological sex. In the veto statement, Sununu wrote:

In 2018, Republicans and Democrats passed legislation to prevent discrimination because I said at the time, it is unacceptable and runs contrary to New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die Spirit. That rings true today. The challenge with HB396 is that in some cases it seeks to solve problems that have not presented themselves in New Hampshire, and in doing so invites unnecessary discord.

Civil rights organizations GLAD and the ACLU denounced HB1205 and HB619 as unconstitutional and vowed to fight the enactment of the bills.

Laws concerning transgender rights have varied widely throughout the US with Texas upholding a ban on gender-affirming care for minors while California recently passed a law that prohibits schools from informing parents if their children choose to change pronouns.



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending