LAPD officer Jack Dunphy has an amusing piece about that Ninth Circuit decision holding that it is cruel and unusual punishment to arrest homeless people for sleeping on the sidewalk, unless you have provided free beds for each and every one. (That decision has my current vote for “Most Likely To Be Overturned by the Supreme Court.”) I’m not sure I subscribe to every last thing he says, but he sure has a way with words:
But if you were to exit the lobby of the New Otani and head south, even for only a block or so, you would experience a different Los Angeles altogether, for if you cross Third Street, especially at night, you will have crossed the River Styx to find yourself immersed in an underworld far beyond your worst imaginings. The sidewalks will be barely if at all passable, for as night descends on the city they are claimed by the homeless — known to those who eschew politically correct euphemisms as “bums” — who erect camping tents and all manner of makeshift dwellings in which to spend the night. But before falling asleep in their tents and their “cardboard condos,” these men (and a few women) will pass their time drinking, smoking crack, shooting heroin, fighting with (and occasionally murdering) each other, and preying on those decent citizens imprudent enough to wander through.
If you were mistakenly to venture into this frothing maelstrom of depravity and somehow escape unharmed, you might walk over to Parker Center and approach the impassive police officer behind the counter in the lobby. “Listen here,” you might say, “what are the police doing about all those besotted bums down the street?” You will find the answer horrifying but somehow unsurprising. “There’s not much we can do,” the cop will say. “They are enjoying the blessings of freedom guaranteed them by the Constitution, as interpreted by the ACLU and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.”
The sound you hear is that of James Madison spinning in his grave, for in a case decided last Friday, a panel of the Ninth Circuit created the constitutional right to be a bum.
Dunphy has some choice words about Kim Wardlaw, the judge who wrote the decision:
You could have all the shelters you like on Skid Row, you could even turn the New Otani into one for that matter, but if they all enforced those pesky prohibitions against the various vices there would still be a substantial number of bums out on the streets enjoying a life unconstrained by expectations that they behave themselves.
All of this would surely come as a shock to Judge Wardlaw, who apparently sees herself as a protector of the downtrodden. “All my life I have had a really keen sense of justice and injustice,” she once told the Los Angeles Business Journal. “A large part of that is derived from the fact that my mother was discriminated against in front of me when I was a young child. My father was disowned because he married a Mexican.”
Was it this keen sense of justice and injustice that inspired Bill Clinton to nominate Wardlaw for the Ninth Circuit in 1998? Or was it, as the cynic might suspect, the great heaps of cash she and her husband Bill Wardlaw bestowed on the Clintons? (The Wardlaws were among the Clintons’ guests who enjoyed a stay in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom.)
I don’t know where Judge Wardlaw lives, but I’m confident there are two commas in the price tag of her home. And I’m just as confident there are no bums sleeping on the sidewalk outside. If there were, how long would it take her to call the police and have them rousted?
Read it all.
I’ve tried to get Dunphy to guest blog here, so far without success. If you all sing his praises in the comments, maybe we can get him on board . . .