Supreme Court OKs Local Crackdowns on Homelessness, as Advocates Warn of Chaos

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Health

The U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed decision on homelessness Friday will make it easier for elected officials and law enforcement authorities nationwide to fine and arrest people who live on streets and sidewalks, in broken-down vehicles, or within city parks — which could have far-reaching health consequences for homeless Americans and their communities.

In a 6-to-3 ruling in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, the justices in the majority said allowing the targeting of homeless people occupying public spaces by enforcing bans on public sleeping or camping with criminal or civil penalties is not cruel and unusual punishment, even if there are no alternative shelter or housing options available for them.

“It’s hard to imagine the chaos that is going to ensue. It’ll have horrible consequences for mental and physical health,” said Ed Johnson, director of litigation at the Oregon Law Center and lead attorney representing homeless defendants in the case.

“If people aren’t allowed to engage in survival while living outside by having things like a blanket and a pillow, or a tarp and a sleeping bag, and they don’t have anywhere else to go, they can die,” he said.

The case, the most consequential on homelessness in decades, comes amid widespread public frustration over the proliferation of homeless encampments — especially in Western cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon — and …

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed decision on homelessness Friday will make it easier for elected officials and law enforcement authorities nationwide to fine and arrest people who live on streets and sidewalks, in broken-down vehicles, or within city parks — which could have far-reaching health consequences for homeless Americans and their communities.

In a 6-to-3 ruling in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, the justices in the majority said allowing the targeting of homeless people occupying public spaces by enforcing bans on public sleeping or camping with criminal or civil penalties is not cruel and unusual punishment, even if there are no alternative shelter or housing options available for them.

“It’s hard to imagine the chaos that is going to ensue. It’ll have horrible consequences for mental and physical health,” said Ed Johnson, director of litigation at the Oregon Law Center and lead attorney representing homeless defendants in the case.

“If people aren’t allowed to engage in survival while living outside by having things like a blanket and a pillow, or a tarp and a sleeping bag, and they don’t have anywhere else to go, they can die,” he said.

The case, the most consequential on homelessness in decades, comes amid widespread public frustration over the proliferation of homeless encampments — especially in Western cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon — and …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]

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