Dec 16, 2019

Supreme Court won't revive Boise's ban on outdoor sleeping

Tents sheltering homeless people line a residential street in Los Angeles. Photo: Getty Images

The Supreme Court let stand on Monday a lower court ruling that blocked a Boise, Idaho, law intended to prevent homeless people from sleeping and camping in public places when the city's shelters are full, per Bloomberg.

The big picture: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that cities cannot enforce criminal penalties against people for "an unavoidable consequence" as it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Cities and municipalities have expressed dismay at the original ruling, as Boise's lawyers argued that public encampments "threaten the lives and well-being both of those living on the streets and the public at large."

Go deeper: Trump claims homelessness is "destroying" San Francisco

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Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.

American society is teetering on the edge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and escalating social unrest are all pushing American society close to the breaking point.

The big picture: Civilizations don't last forever, and when they collapse, the cause is almost always internal failure. Even in the midst of one of our darkest years, the U.S. still has many factors in its favor, but the fate of past societies holds frightening lessons for what may lie ahead.