Lawsuit Filed Challenging Constitutionality Of CARE Courts
Courts had been expected to be implemented through state this year
By Evan Symon, January 27, 2023 7:15 am
Three civil rights groups filed a petition on Thursday with the California Supreme Court to block the implementation of the CARE Courts program, which had been signed into law by Governor Newsom last year.
According to the state, the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court was put into place through the passage of SB 1338 to help establish a framework to get those with mental and substance abuse problems support and assistance, especially those with untreated conditions, before conservatorship and institutional care. Families, clinicians, first responders and others will also be able to refer individuals suffering from schizophrenia spectrum or psychotic disorders.
SB 1338 was signed into law in September by Governor Gavin Newsom, who noted at the time that “With overwhelming support from the Legislature and stakeholders across California, CARE Court will now become a reality in our state, offering hope and a new path forward for thousands of struggling Californians and empowering their loved ones to help. I thank our legislators and the broad coalition of partners who made this day possible and look forward to our work ahead together to implement this transformative program in communities across California.”
Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana), who wrote the bill along with Senator Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), also said that “I have seen first-hand the good that can come when our judicial, executive, and legislative branches work together to address delicate populations and nuanced issues like mental health, veterans, at-risk youth, and substance use. The individual frameworks and best practices for collaboration exist here – and we pulled them together in SB 1338 for something new and revolutionary in California. I’m proud to have been able to spearhead this effort with Senator Eggman and look forward to more advances in the years ahead.”
Implementation of the Care Courts began last month in several counties, with the goal to have a slow-roll out across the state. Funding began with an initial $88 million, with an additional $52 million set to be added with the new budget later this year. Plans are, under full implementation, to raise funding to $215 million by 2026.
However, opposition has grown following the signing of the bill in September. Many mental health and disability groups have since come forward opposing the courts,, saying that the courts strips away the rights of anyone entering them and that the courts will actually worsen mental health as many aren’t going to be given the care level they need. Many also oppose the courts as they essentially force social services on people and that it goes against the Constitution as Californians rights to choose housing and health treatments are essentially thrown away when under the court.
On Thursday, Disability Rights California, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, and the Public Interest Law Project filed a suit, Disability Rights California v. Newsom, challenging the Care Courts in the state Supreme Court. According to the filing, “The proposed solution is court orders that rob unhoused Californians of their autonomy to choose their own mental health treatment and housing and threatens their liberty. This ‘solution’ will not work and will deprive thousands of people of their constitutional rights.”
The involuntary nature of the courts was further highlighted by Western Center on Law and Poverty senior attorney Helen Tran, who said in a statement on Thursday that “The CARE Act unnecessarily involves our court systems to force medical care and social services on people. We are opposed to this new system of coercion. The state’s resources should, instead, be directed at creating more affordable, permanent supportive housing and expanding our systems of care to allow everyone who needs help to quickly access them.”
With the Care Courts now in jeopardy, the Newsom lashed out against the lawsuit later on Thursday, writing off the groups concerns as them simply wanting to ‘delay progress’.
“There’s nothing compassionate about allowing individuals with severe, untreated mental health and substance use disorders to suffer in our alleyways, in our criminal justice system, or worse — face death,” said the Governor’s office on Thursday. “While some groups want to delay progress with arguments in favor of the failing status quo, the rest of us are dealing with the cold, hard reality that something must urgently be done to address this crisis.”
However, legal experts noted that Newsom and others may have a hard time defending their program in court.
“They’re going to have to prove that the Care Courts need to have many involuntary parts,” explained lawyer Brandon Gibbons to the Globe. “And that’s not to mention the court of public pinion, of whom many prefer to have a more nuanced approach and fill the needs of housing and medical care through personal choice. No one is saying don’t do anything about health care, but the question is if this program goes against people’s rights to achieve it. The Newsom administration really need to prep for this case.”
The case is expected to be heard in the coming months.
8 thoughts on “Lawsuit Filed Challenging Constitutionality Of CARE Courts”
How long before these courts are used to strip away rights from political foes?
One more reason California is home to more vagrants than any other state.
Too many people in idealistic ivory towers.
Just amend the bill to prevent government over reach if you have to, but get the bums off the street!
Aw, shucks.. At least Newsom can say he tried to fix his blue state mess, before he moves on to something else. The idea is a good one and Lantermann-Perris-Short ACT standing in the way, badly needs reform. May the court respond with justice for all; not short term partisan politics.
Voters passed the Mental Health Services Act decades ago. MHSA has been raising billions of dollars every year since, but on a now declining base of “rich taxpayers” that Newsom scared away.’
The sole voter intent passing MHSA to get these mentally impaired people off the streets and into state care facilities. What happened to all that money?
What is humane now trying to block Care Courts from addressing this critical issue? Make your case social justice warriors, why do you prefer leaving them on the streets. Voter will and taxpayer money is there to get them off the streets, and into a state care facility.
Blood is on your hands, if you refuse this common sense response.
Couldn’t agree more, Jaye.
These people, the Disability Rights California, are the same people who facilitated the Reise v St Marys lawsuit in 1987 that put the mentally ill on the streets in the first place. The ACLU were the lead in that lawsuit. but DRC provided the main legal support.
In fact the more you dig into the history of the DRC the scammier they sound. They were designated by Jerry Brown in the 1970’s as some kind of quasi state organization under a Federal act but are a private 501(c)(3) yet all their income comes from government sources. They employ over 300 people a lot of whom seem to be lawyers. And very well paid layers.
The Western Center on Law & Poverty is left wing lawyers lobbying / ligation group. About 30 employees. $3M income. Majority from pubic funds by the look of it. And finally Public Interest Law Project is 8 people in Oakland, and $2M in income. Real bottom feeders by the look of it.
So we have two small time players and one very big fish. And the big fish is almost complete financed by the state / Feds and I’ll be damned if I can any real substantive achievement from them in the last 40 years. Just lots of very destructive litigation. They just make a big deal about very minor stuff as huge achievement.
So just the usual cast of 501 scam artists and self righteous blowhards who have caused such immense misery over the decades.
So if anyone asks you why there are so many mentally ill living and dying on the streets of cities in California the direct blame all leads back to Disability Rights California. A state support organization put the mentally ill on the streets in the 1980’s and has been one of the groups in the forefront of all legal challenges to any reform to get the mentally ill of the streets in the decades since. All financed by the tax-payer.
Here is the true banality of evil.
Great info. Thank you
I agree, what a great, informative post. Thank you, tfourier.