Headline RoundupApril 23rd, 2024

Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Homeless Encampment Bans

Summary from the AllSides News Team

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday involving policies for handling homeless encampments, and how much power municipalities should have when enforcing anti-camping laws.

For Context: The case originated in Grant Pass, Oregon in 2018 when several homeless people filed suit in federal court alleging the town tried to banish them. Rulings from both a federal district judge in Medford and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disallowed the city from enforcing sleeping bans, saying that treating homelessness as a criminal offense violates the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. A decision from the high court is expected by the end of June.

Key Quotes: Justice Elena Kagan said, "Sleeping is a biological necessity. It’s sort of like breathing. I mean, you could say breathing is conduct, too. But, presumably, you would not think that it’s OK to criminalize breathing in public." Chief Justice John Roberts at one point suggested that local governments should handle the issue, asking, "Why do you think these nine people are the best people to judge and weigh these policy judgments?"

How the Media Covered It: Media on the left and right showed differing interpretations of the justice's positions, with headlines on the left and right in some cases directly opposing one another. A New York Times (Lean Left bias) headline said that the “Supreme Court Seems Poised to Uphold Local Bans,” while National Review News (Lean Right bias) said justices were more focused on whether “Outdoor-Sleeping Ban Unfairly Targets Homeless.”

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