Cicero Institute Files SCOTUS Amicus Brief on Ninth Circuit Homelessness Ruling

Cicero Institute challenges the notion that homelessness policy must be solely punitive in nature

Austin, Texas, March 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Cicero Institute announces the filing of an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court to stop activist judges in the Ninth Circuit from rewriting the U.S. Constitution by eliminating cities’ abilities to enforce lawful, common-sense municipal ordinances within their jurisdictions as they relate to homelessness and camping on public land.

The brief, filed in support of the petitioner in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson et al.,  involves the intersection of homelessness policy and cities' abilities to protect public health and safety through the enforcement of laws. Cicero Institute challenges the notion that homelessness policy must be solely punitive in nature, advocating instead for comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of homelessness, like untreated mental illness and addiction. It highlights successful initiatives from across the country that demonstrate the efficacy of holistic approaches in addressing homelessness while respecting individual rights—including prohibitions on dangerous street camps. 

Grants Pass, Oregon, prohibits camping or sleeping overnight in public spaces, such as on roads, sidewalks, and city parks. Violating the city’s camping ordinances is a civil matter, not a criminal one. The worst “punishment” that could occur under these ordinances is that an individual could be excluded from a city park for 30 days.
Yet that didn’t stop the Ninth Circuit from deciding that the city’s ordinances violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when applied to homeless individuals (even those who have an opportunity to stay at a local shelter but refuse).  

In its decision, the Ninth Circuit essentially recognized a “constitutional right” to camp on public property. This decision is contrary to the text and original meaning of the Eighth Amendment and, as some municipalities have experienced over the last several years, will eliminate cities’ ability to protect the health and safety of the entire community (including homeless individuals) and provide needed care to help alleviate the causes of homelessness.

As a leading voice in the fight for constitutional adherence, Cicero Institute recognizes the paramount importance of this case in safeguarding the fundamental liberties and principles upon which our nation was built. The amicus brief underscores the Institute's unwavering commitment to defending the rule of law and ensuring that justice prevails. 

About Cicero Institute

Cicero Institute is a non-partisan 501(c)3 public policy organization dedicated to advancing constitutional principles and promoting the rule of law. Through rigorous research, advocacy, and legal analysis, Cicero Institute strives to uphold the values enshrined in our nation's founding documents and ensure that justice prevails for all Americans.




Amicus Curiae - City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson et al

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