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June 28, 2024

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

CHICAGO, June 28, 2024 — Today the Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson holding that the enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

While not directly addressing homelessness, this case could have practical implications for the homeless and unhoused populations permitting cities and states across the country to issue fines or impose jail time for violations of laws involving life-sustaining activities, such as sleeping in public spaces.

With today’s ruling, it is even more critical for states and local communities to find constructive ways to address the root causes of homelessness and treat those affected with compassion and dignity. The ABA remains committed to finding solutions to homelessness by advocating for the revision of laws and policies to address the challenges that arise when the demand for shelter, housing and services exceeds supply. Instead of criminalizing homelessness, the ABA encourages city, state and local governments to support efforts to increase shelter, housing and services to adequately address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

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