Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen targeted many of his comments on the Monday Talk Back show on the homeless situations occurring in Missoula, Bozeman and other major Montana cities, and how recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decisions have affected the state.

“The Ninth Circuit ruled in two different cases,” began Attorney General Knudsen. “Basically, it decided that local towns and municipalities cannot crack down on homelessness, and that somehow they read into the Constitution that you have the right to sleep in a public place and to defecate on public city sidewalks. Peter, I don't read that anywhere in the Bill of Rights, but the Ninth Circuit read that into the Eighth Amendment, that it’s a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Knudsen Critical of 9th U.S. Circuit Court on Homeless Issues

Knudsen said the recent 9th Circuit Court decisions are having damaging effects on cities like Missoula and Bozeman.

“This is having a major, major effect across the Mountain West, but especially here in Montana,” he said. “I mean you look at Missoula with their homeless problem. Look at Bozeman. Right now Bozeman is really starting to see it. Downtown business owners are really struggling. Billings has been dealing with it for quite some time and so is Kalispell right now. This is becoming a real problem for towns and municipalities, and it's leading to a lot of lawlessness.”

Knudsen was Complimentary about New Court Appointee Anthony Johnstone

Knudsen was complimentary about the most recent appointment to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, UM law professor Anthony Johnstone.

“Generally I have pretty positive things to say about Justice Johnstone,” he said. “Justice VanDyke is another excellent conservative justice that got put on the 9th Circuit by President Trump, but it doesn't change the fact that by and large, the 9th Circuit is still known as one of the most liberal courts in the country. The 9th tends to be pretty out there in left field and here they are with this one (decision).”

Knudsen said Court Decisions have Handcuffed Local Law Enforcement

Knudsen said the 9th Circuit Court decisions have handcuffed local law enforcement agencies as they attempt to deal with homeless issues.

“These homeless encampments end up being dangerous places,” he said. “They're full of drugs. We see a lot of violent crime. We see, unfortunately, a lot of sexual assault and sexual crimes happening in these homeless camps. So the idea that you would strip a town like Missoula, of its ability to enforce public safety laws in these homeless encampments is just crazy. Because of that, we've asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and fix these cases. The Ninth Circuit just got this one wrong. They didn't just get it wrong once, they got it wrong twice.”

Attorney General Knudsen appears about once a month on the KGVO Talk Back show to take calls from Missoula area listeners.

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