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High Court to Review Whether Cities Can Issue Tickets to Homeless Individuals

Homeless Individuals (Credits: CNN)

On Monday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case challenging a law that allows cities to fine homeless individuals, a case that could have serious implications for the lives of hundreds of thousands of people without homes.

The case stems from a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined that cities cannot penalize homeless individuals for camping in public spaces when alternative shelters are not available. However, the cities involved in the lawsuit are seeking to overturn this decision.

Supreme Court Split on Whether Cities Can Ticket Homeless People (Credits: KTVZ)

Advocates for the homeless argue that overturning the ruling could effectively criminalize homelessness, while city officials contend that such restrictions are necessary to address issues related to camping in public places.

Leading the legal challenge is the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, which implemented an anti-camping law that imposes fines of $295 per night on homeless individuals. According to the town’s attorney, blocking the law has hindered efforts to address growing encampments, which are deemed unsafe and unhealthy for everyone.

The debate surrounding the case revolves around the Eighth Amendment, with homeless advocates arguing that penalizing individuals without homes constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Supreme Court reviews homeless ordinance (Credits:

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Justice Department have both urged the Supreme Court to overturn the appellate ruling, asserting that allowing municipalities to enforce reasonable limits on camping in public spaces is essential for public safety. However, they emphasize the importance of not criminalizing homelessness as a whole.

The case has drawn attention from mayors, attorneys general, and advocacy groups across the country, with various stakeholders weighing in on the issue.

A ruling on the case is expected by late June, with potential implications for homeless populations nationwide.

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