Supreme Court says restrictions on homeless people not ‘cruel and unusual’; Alex Hosmar, law clerk at Rose Law Group, comments on what it means for Arizona

By Meira Gebel | Axios

The Supreme Court sided with a small, southern Oregon town in a 6-3 ruling Friday, saying it has the authority to enforce ordinances that criminalize behaviors associated with being unhoused — like sleeping or camping on public property or parks — even when no shelter is available.

Why it matters: The decision effectively gives the OK to other metropolitan areas struggling with rising homelessness to enact similar restrictive laws targeting outdoor camping.

The other side: “We are disappointed that a majority of the court has decided that our Constitution allows a city to punish its homeless residents simply for sleeping outside with a blanket to survive the cold when there is nowhere else for them to go,” Ed Johnson, Oregon Law Center’s director of litigation, told Axios.


By reversing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in in City of Grants Pass v. Oregon, the US Supreme court upheld the constitutionality of using public camping restrictions as a tool for state and local governments to manage the thorny and complicated issue of homelessness. As members of the 9th Circuit, Arizona jurisdictions are at the forefront of this reversal and may now see bans from localities who previously were unable to restrict public camping absent presence of another crime. While this decision does not compel our governments to impose ordinances banning individuals from sleeping in parks and other public areas, individuals may no longer sue a government for enforcing such restrictions under the 8th Amendment’s “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” clause.  Rose Law Group’s active constitutional law and government affairs practice groups are equipped to help clients navigate the impacts of this sweeping change.” -Alex Hosmar, law clerk at Rose Law Group

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July 2024