Supreme Court will decide on whether it's a crime to sleep outside if no inside space is available

Sleeping, like eating, peeing, and pooping, is required to stay alive. On April 22nd, the Supreme Court will hear a landmark case on whether to criminalize survival.

It's up to the justices to decide if criminalizing behaviors like sleeping in public when someone is homeless and has no other option violates the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The case originated in Grants Pass, Oregon, where the city enforced an anti-camping law against homeless individuals using even basic protection like blankets. Grants Pass argues the 9th Circuit's rulings against such laws "worsened homelessness" and left cities powerless. It's asking the Court to abandon precedents like the 1962 Robinson v. California decision, which held "it is unconstitutional to criminalize being a drug addict."

In her essay published in The Conversation, Clare Pastore, a former Senior Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, writes:

The homeless plaintiffs argue that they do not challenge reasonable regulation of the time and place of outdoor sleeping, the city's ability to limit the size or location of homeless groups or encampments, or the legitimacy of punishing those who insist on remaining in public when shelter is available. But they argue that broad anti-camping laws inflict overly harsh punishments for "wholly innocent, universally unavoidable behavior" and that punishing people for "simply existing outside without access to shelter" will not reduce this activity.

They contend that criminalizing sleeping in public when there is no alternative violates the Eighth Amendment in three ways: by criminalizing the "status" of homelessness, by imposing disproportionate punishment on innocent and unavoidable acts, and by imposing punishment without a legitimate deterrent or rehabilitative goal.

Previously: Man lives in a storage unit and explains how to get away with it