The US Supreme Court upheld the ban on sleeping on the street for homeless people

The US Supreme Court upheld the ban on sleeping on the street for homeless people
The US Supreme Court upheld the ban on sleeping on the street for homeless people

The United States Supreme Court determined this Friday that the laws that prevent homeless people from sleeping in public places are constitutionalrejecting arguments that this practice constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The case before the court arose from the regulations of the city ​​of Grants Pass, Oregonthat camping or using any type of bedding is prohibited on public property. This measure was implemented after the city parks were filled with tents, blankets and cardboard.

Those who violate these regulations face a fine of US$100 and possible prison sentences for repeat offenders. The court’s decision was supported by its six conservative justices, with three liberal justices opposed. The ruling states that homelessness does not justify invoking the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits corporal punishment.

“The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution serves many important functions, but it does not authorize federal judges to strip those rights and responsibilities from the American people and instead dictate this nation’s policy toward homeless persons,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.

Homeless people increase in the United States

Currently, there is a record 653,100 homeless nationwide, according to a census taken in 2023. The Supreme Court took up the case following complaints from a coalition of Republican-led states, such as Arizona, and progressive leaders such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who claimed that a lower court ruling prevented them from addressing the homelessness crisis.

The conservative wing argument determined that The issue must be resolved by each state and each city. However, advocates for the homeless have argued that prohibiting camping for those without a place to spend the night amounts to a “cruel and unusual punishment” sanctioned by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution.

“Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime. For some people, sleeping outdoors is their only option,” said progressive Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Grants Pass, a municipality of 40,000 residents, lacks public shelters for the homeless.

The arguments against the ban

Economists affirm that the North American country does not have sufficient housing stock to meet demandwhich raises prices and mainly affects the most vulnerable sectors, increasing the number of homeless people.

Additionally, critics point out that laws criminalizing sleeping outdoors do not address the underlying causes of homelessnessas the affordable housing shortagehe unemployment and lack of access to mental health and addiction services.

Homeless advocates insist that Punitive policies only make matters worse, displacing the homeless without offering sustainable solutions. In this sense, they support the search for an approach that includes More shelters, housing programs and comprehensive support to help people get out of homelessness.

Source: Ambito

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