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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Grants Pass v. Johnson

The Supreme Court today will hear arguments on whether a US city can fine or jail people for sleeping outside. The hearing comes amid a rise in housing costs and record levels of homelessness; last year, more than 650,000 people in the US were estimated to be homeless on any given night.

In Grants Pass, Oregon, officials passed laws allowing the city to fine people $295 if found illegally camping on public property. Repeat violators could face added fines or jail time. In 2022, a federal court found the city’s laws violated the 8th Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment if there aren't enough shelter beds. At issue will be whether the laws apply to a class of people (those experiencing homelessness) or target an illegal action (sleeping outside).

The Supreme Court ruling could have implications nationwide. Officials in Idaho, Montana, and California (home to almost one-third of the US homeless population) have joined Grants Pass to ask the Supreme Court to clarify or overturn the lower court ruling.

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