Thursday, July 11, 2024

Supremes Refuse to Normalize Sleeping Rough: The Supreme Court Stands Up for Safety of Citizens; Some Democrats Call for Changes to Homeless Camping Laws as 'uncertainty' Follows Supreme Court Ruling

Supremes Refuse to Normalize Sleeping Rough
The Supreme Court stands up for safety of citizens.
Whether you live in a city or a small town, you’re a winner because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, announced on Friday. The Supremes ruled 6-3 that municipalities can ban homeless encampments from sidewalks, parks and other public areas. Sleeping in the rough is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, said the court.
It’s likely no other Supreme Court ruling this year will positively impact more people. In cities plagued by street living, parents walking their children to school have to navigate around discarded needles and human waste. Store owners opening up in the morning have to deal with entrances blocked by cardboard shelters. People risk getting mugged walking by the encampments on their way to work.
The small town of Grants Pass, Oregon, banned sleeping under cardboard boxes, tents and blankets in public places. Homelessness advocates sued, citing a 2018 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling — Martin v. City of Boise. It said that fining or jailing people for sleeping in the rough was “cruel and unusual punishment,” a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Lawyers for Grants Pass asked the Supreme Court to overturn Martin, citing the incidence of “crime, fires, the reemergence of medieval diseases,” and “record levels of drug overdoses and deaths on public streets” wherever sleeping rough is tolerated.
In every one of the nine states affected by the Martin ruling — Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — street living has soared since 2018, up 51% in Alaska, 46% in Idaho, and 46% in Oregon, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual homeless survey. Legalizing living rough encourages it.
Had the Supreme Court ruled against Grants Pass, all 50 states likely would be facing a surge in street living. --->READ MORE HERE
Some Democrats call for changes to homeless camping laws as 'uncertainty' follows Supreme Court ruling:
Oregon law hampers local efforts to crack down on homeless camping, despite pivotal SCOTUS decision
On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling that cities can outlaw homeless camps, at least two Oregon Democrats have signaled a desire to roll back a 2021 state law limiting municipalities' ability to ban camping on public property.
"Our communities deserve streets that are safe and clean, not only for residents but also for businesses that drive our economy," state Sen. Mark Meek said in a statement, according to the Portland Tribune. "We must reform restrictive laws… so that local communities can maintain public safety."
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court last week overturned a 9th Circuit ruling that found laws banning homeless people from sleeping in parks and on sidewalks violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. That case originated in Grants Pass, Oregon, and West Coast leaders across the political spectrum said it hamstrung efforts to clean up streets.
The new ruling gives cities more options as they grapple with an unsheltered homelessness epidemic, but in Oregon, a separate state law could still tie officials' hands.
"Cities right now have been given so many different competing guidelines that there is a significant amount of uncertainty," state Rep. Paul Evans said, according to OPB.
Oregon lawmakers passed a bill in 2021 that requires local ordinances regulating sitting, lying and sleeping on public property to be "objectively reasonable as to time, place and manner." Then-House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat who is now Oregon's governor, championed the law. --->READ MORE HERE
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