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Homeless Encampment Ordinances in the Wake of Martin v. City of Boise: Legality and Enforcement

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will explore how the Ninth Circuit created a "de facto" constitutional right to live on sidewalks, how the opinion is impacting municipalities both inside and outside the Ninth Circuit, and what municipalities can do to maintain the health and safety of their communities.


Historically, cities have banned homeless encampments along public sidewalks by enforcing "anti-camping" and other "quality of life" laws with fines, citations, or even arrest. The Ninth Circuit, in Martin v. City of Boise, prohibited cities, on constitutional grounds, from enforcing such ordinances unless it offers shelter for all homeless in its jurisdiction.

The decision has been roundly criticized for distorting the Eighth Amendment and for creating a constitutional standard impossible to meet. Many assert that it cripples the ability of cities to maintain basic public health standards and sets the stage for rampant disease, increased criminal activity, and massive costs related to clean up. Advocates for the homeless applaud the Martin decision as the "hammer" to force cities and other governmental entities to find meaningful and long-term solutions to homelessness.

Technically only binding in the Ninth Circuit, courts in Colorado and Virginia have cited the opinion. Suits based on its holding have been filed outside the Ninth Circuit. Its supporters are eager to convert the rest of the country.

Listen as our panel discusses the Martin decision, its impact on cities in the Ninth Circuit, how cities and towns are coping, and what other municipalities should be thinking and doing.



  1. The rationale of Martin v. City of Boise
    1. Majority
    2. Dissent
    3. Criticism
  2. How cities in the Ninth Circuit are coping
  3. Impact and influence outside the Ninth Circuit
  4. Legislative solutions
    1. Federal
    2. State
  5. Local responses


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Rationale and logic of both the majority and dissent in Martin
  • What about the Martin decision is likely to be influential or successful outside the Ninth Circuit?
  • Does the Martin decision sets up barriers to regulation of public health?
  • Whether Martin's reliance on the Eighth Amendment limits its impact on ordinances for which no criminal penalty is assessed?


Cole, William
William F. Cole

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Mr. Cole currently practices in the firm’s Litigation Department, where his practice focuses on complex...  |  Read More

Tartakovsky, Joseph
Joseph Tartakovsky

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Mr. Tartakovsky practices in the firm’s Litigation, White Collar, and Appellate and Constitutional Law groups.

 |  Read More
Eckman, Samuel
Samuel Eckman

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Mr. Eckman is an associate in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  He is a member of the...  |  Read More

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