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Local bans on homeless people sleeping in public earn Supreme Court review


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The Hill

The Supreme Court said Friday it would consider whether local laws prohibiting homeless people from sleeping on public property is cruel and unusual punishment barred by the Constitution.  

The Oregon city of Grants Pass asked the high court to review a lower court’s decision to block it from enforcing its public camping ordinance, writing that the decision “cemented a conflict” with California courts that have upheld similar ordinances.  

The city cited a slew of potential consequences for allowing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stand, including crime, fires, environmental harm, “the reemergence of medieval diseases,” drug overdoses and deaths.  

“(The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’) decisions are legally wrong and have tied the hands of local governments as they work to address the urgent homelessness crisis,” Theane Evangelis, a lawyer for Grants Pass, said in a statement.

“The tragedy is that these decisions are actually harming the very people they purport to protect,” she continued. “We look forward to presenting our arguments to the Supreme Court this spring.”:snip:

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56 minutes ago, Geee said:
The Hill


“The tragedy is that these decisions are actually harming the very people they purport to protect,” she continued. “We look forward to presenting our arguments to the Supreme Court this spring.”:snip:

THE question is Who are protecting?

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The 9th Circuit Is Wrong: There’s No Homelessness Protection Clause in Constitution

Once upon a time, constitutional interpretation actually involved interpreting the text of the Constitution.

It’s not a blank slate. Its words have actual meanings. While the federal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes that the Constitution contains words, the judges on that court seem to think they can ascribe any meaning—no matter how outlandish—to those words.

One of their latest provocations can be found in a series of three cases: Martin v. City of Boise, Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, and Coalition on Homelessness v. San Francisco.

Martin, the lead case, held that the government may not punish a homeless individual for sleeping on public property if there is no bed in a secular facility for him or her to use free of charge. (The decisions actually go much further, but let’s take it slowly.)


Now, that ruling might surprise most people, because the government holds public property for the benefit of the public and has the same right to decide who can sleep (or camp, or micturate, or do No. 2) on public property that private parties have to protect their own property. Plus, there is neither a homeless protection clause in the Constitution, nor a right-to-sleep-on-public-property Clause:snip:

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  • 3 months later...

SCOTUS Seems to Side With Oregon City and Its Ban on Homeless Camping, Ruling Will Have Huge Implications

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, a case that could decide how the country deals with its ever-growing homeless problem. The question before them: is it a violation of the Eighth Amendment protection against “cruel and unusual punishment” to ban sleeping or camping in public spaces, as the plaintiffs argue? 

The plaintiffs are Gloria Johnson and John Logan, two homeless people who are represented by attorney Kelsi B. Corkran.

The court was in session for over two hours:

The justices seemed split along ideological lines in the case, which has sweeping implications for how the country deals with a growing homelessness crisis.

In a lengthy and, at times, fiery argument that lasted almost two and a half hours, questioning from the justices reflected the complexity of the homelessness debate. They weighed the status of poverty and the civil rights of homeless people against the ability of cities to clear public spaces like parks and sidewalks to address concerns about health and safety. They wrestled with what lines could be drawn to regulate homelessness — and, crucially, who should make those rules.:snip:

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