DRC v. Newsom


DRC v. Newsom

On January 26, 2023, Disability Rights California (DRC), Western Center on Law & Poverty, and The Public Interest Law Project filed an original petition for writ of mandate to the California Supreme Court. The petition was filed on behalf of DRC as an organization and challenges the constitutional validity of the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Act, also known as the CARE Act. If implemented, the CARE Act will create a new court-ordered system of involuntary outpatient treatment. In doing so, it will strip Californians with disabilities of fundamental rights protected by the California Constitution and subjects them to a court process that violates their due process rights. This will bring Californians with disabilities into court under an alarming new legal standard – whether there is the likelihood of a person’s mental health condition deteriorating or relapsing. Current legal standards do not allow for courts to speculate into a person’s future mental health condition. Any initial group of seven counties must implement the CARE Act by October 1, 2023.

No other California law permits competent adults to be dragged into court upon citizen petitions, ordered into treatment, and subjected to statutory penalties for noncompliance when they have done nothing wrong, are not creating a danger to anyone, and are competent to make their own medical decisions.

DRC’s petition was filed against Governor Newsom and the head of the California Health and Human Services agency, Secretary Ghaly. The state responded with a preliminary opposition on February 10, 2023. DRC filed a preliminary reply on February 21, 2023. More than 25 groups filed amicus letters with the Supreme Court, supporting DRC’s petition.

Alternatives to the CARE Act: Real Housing and Voluntary Services

DRC opposes the CARE Act, but does not support the status quo, which leaves unhoused people and people with mental health disabilities without needed housing and voluntary services.  State resources must be urgently allocated towards addressing homelessness, incarceration, hospitalization, conservatorship, and premature death of Californians living with severe mental illness, CARE Court is the wrong framework. 

The right framework allows people with disabilities to retain autonomy over their own lives by providing them with meaningful and reliable access to affordable, accessible, integrated housing combined with voluntary services. Evidence shows that adequately resourced intensive voluntary outpatient treatment is more effective than court-ordered treatment. CARE Court fails to provide the needed resources and risks hurting the very people it is intended to support.

Significant Documents

Press Release

News Coverage