Grants Pass Supreme Court decision undermines economic justice

Washington, DC, June 28, 2024—Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Grants Pass v. Johnson. The decision says that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not extend to laws that criminalize life sustaining acts by people experiencing homelessness. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The city of Grants Pass, Oregon enacted laws criminalizing actions like eating, sleeping, or laying down in public spaces. Today’s ruling upheld the city’s decision to criminalize these acts. Effectively, it is now legal to punish people experiencing homelessness for tending to their basic needs in public, even when there is no alternative shelter available. 

RESULTS Executive Director Joanne Carter said, “It is deeply disappointing that the nation’s highest court allowed cities to continue criminalizing poverty. This decision will exacerbate poverty without providing solutions. Despite this setback, Congress still can pass laws that protect those among us experiencing homelessness. They can also enact laws that address the underlying causes of homelessness. These root causes include skyrocketing rents across the country. The current system does not adequately address the needs or complexity of the issue. This decision has only worsened conditions for the most vulnerable in our communities.”  

RESULTS Associate Director of U.S. Poverty, Michael Santos, denounces this decision as a step backward for solving homelessness. “Cities and local communities across the country can use this decision to hide poverty and homelessness from the public eye without addressing its root causes. The Court’s decision cements the ability of governments to fine and jail people experiencing homelessness and poverty without solving it. There is no consideration for how these members of our community will afford the fines and fees. The debts will make it harder for them to escape poverty. Jail time will create criminal records that increase barriers to employment. The time is now to urge Congress to end and prevent homelessness. Solutions can include creating a renter tax credit as part of a larger package of laws to address the housing crisis.”  

For more information on a renter tax credit and other housing policies endorsed by RESULTS, see these resources: 

A quick guide to the future of federal housing policy advocacy

Tax package containing a Child Tax Credit expansion passes in the House of Representatives, RESULTS urges the Senate to swiftly do the same


Media Contact:

Laura Labarre, RESULTS
[email protected]
+1 202.783.4800 x139

About RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund:

RESULTS supports a movement of passionate, committed everyday people using their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. Volunteers and staff multiply their impact through the enormous power of advocacy.

Our movement of volunteers is backed by a staff of researchers, policy analysts, and legislative and media experts. Our shared goal is the end of poverty. We have affiliates and partners across five continents, and a network of volunteers in all 50 states and worldwide. We’re a non-partisan advocacy group comprised of RESULTS Educational Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, and RESULTS, a nonprofit 501(c)4 grassroots lobbying organization.

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