Well, this is Trump-y. Displeased with legal rulings blocking encampment sweeps, a testy Gavin Newsom declared he wanted to post “a big sign with the judge’s phone number saying, ‘Call the judge.’”
The most notable courtroom drama in San Francisco these days is the battle over a federal judge issuing an injunction to ban homeless encampment sweeps, and the city’s appeal of this decision, prompting a raucous protest and counterprotest (which even drew Mayor Breed) outside an SF federal courthouse last week. But those protests and counterprotests are pure political theater, they do not affect the judges’ decisions.
Yet Governor Gavin Newsom, irked at judges blocking encampment sweeps, sounds like he wants to create some political theater to influence those judges’ decisions. He gave a fiery interview to the Chronicle Tuesday, and at one point even said he wanted to dox a judge’s personal information because he was mad over the legal ruling.
"Newsom was so mad, he said he considered publicizing the judge’s contact information so residents would know why the encampment wasn’t being cleared." Wow - juicy detail in @SophiaBollag scoop https://t.co/KASH07l1lp— Emily Hoeven (@emily_hoeven) August 30, 2023
"I literally was talking about putting a big sign with the judge’s phone number saying, 'Call the judge. We want to clean this up, too. Yes, we’re aware. Yes, we see what you see,'" Newsom told the Chronicle.
Newsom was not referring to the San Francisco case, but instead a 2021 ruling by a federal judge blocking an encampment sweep planned at the Berkeley-Emeryville border. (An appeals court overruled that decision.) But Newsom still had choice words for the federal judge in the San Francisco ruling.
"The San Francisco order, it’s preposterous and it’s inhumane," Newsom told the Chronicle. "It’s incredibly frustrating."
On homelessness, @ElonMusk has touched on a key issue.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 29, 2023
California has made record investments — $15.3 bil.
But federal courts block local efforts to clear street encampments — even when housing and services are offered.
Courts must also be held accountable. Enough is enough.
Look at Newsom even sucking up to Elon Musk, who recently called for a boycott of the firm Latham & Watkins over their representation of the ACLU and Coalition on Homelessness in the SF lawsuit, as well as their successful argument of the Martin v. Boise decision that barred sweeps if a city could not offer alternate shelter. Though when you get sued as often as Elon Musk does, I’m not sure how many big law firms you can afford to boycott.
A Chronicle opinion piece addressed Newsom’s remarks, decrying statements that targeted judges, but that piece also contains some news. The writer points out that a local group called Stop SF Crime was planning to grade San Francisco judges on the stiffness of their sentencing, apparently in hopes of getting tougher judges elected. This dovetails into DA Brooke Jenkins blaming judges for the prevalence of SF crime, as violent crime is up during her tenure, and she doesn't have Chesa Boudin around to blame anymore.
The Chronicle interview with Newsom notes the irony that Newsom and Mayor Breed get the most blame for homelessness, even though they push the tougher policies. And we’ll point out that homelessness went up under Newsom, but has decreased under Breed. (Though credit where it’s due, some of Breed’s success in that department was funded by Newsom’s state-level Homekey Project.)
All that aside, we sure seem to be seeing an emerging moderate politician argument to blame judges for SF or California's ills that happen under their tenure. And I suppose Stop SF Crime will probably score some of that sweet tech PAC money with their effort. But for DA Jenkins, Mayor Breed, and Governor Newsom, voters are probably going to judge you, and not a judge, for your performance in office… whether you like it or not.
Image: ANTIOCH, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 11: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters during a visit the Antioch Water Treatment Plant on August 11, 2022 in Antioch, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a desalination plant that is under construction at the Antioch Water Treatment Plant where he announced water supply actions that the state is taking to adapt to hotter, drier conditions caused by climate change. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)