Supreme Courts Gives Cities Unprecedented New Power

Photo by Jake Leonard on Unsplash

( – On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that cities could enforce bans that bar homeless people from sleeping outdoors in areas in the West Coast where there is a lack of shelter space. This is the most important case to pass before the country’s highest court in decades regarding homelessness, which has become an issue of rising importance as many people in the United States have been left without a permanent residence. 

Previously, a San Francisco-based appeals court had ruled that bans on outdoor sleeping could not be implemented arguing that it is an unusual and cruel punishment. However, in a 6-3 ruling the Supreme Court reversed this ruling. 

A bipartisan group of leaders in nine Western states has argued that the ruling had made it harder for them to make any moves against outdoor encampment management. California, where one-third of the U.S. homeless population is located had opposed the previous ruling. 

On the other hand, homeless advocates have argued that giving cities the right to criminalize sleeping outside in places where people needed somewhere to sleep was a cruel punishment that would only result in the crisis worsening. Cities previously had the right to regulate encampments however they could not completely bar people from sleeping outside. 

The case is the result of an appeal by Grants Pass, Oregon, a rural town and it is related to a ruling against local ordinances which allowed those sleeping outside to face a fine of $295. The fines started to be implemented after a large number of tents started to appear in public places. 

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which holds jurisdiction over those nine states, has maintained that these bans are a violation of the Eighth Amendment in places where there is a lack of shelter beds.

Copyright 2024,