Justice Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS Ruling Overturning Homeless Rights | EUROtoday

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave a blistering dissent of Friday’s ruling that can give native governments the flexibility to punish homeless folks for sleeping outdoors.

“The only question for the Court today is whether the Constitution permits punishing homeless people with no access to shelter for sleeping in public with as little as a blanket to keep warm,” Sotomayor stated in her dissent.

In a 6-3 choice, the conservative-majority court docket overturned two choices from the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granting protections to homeless folks from punishment for sleeping outside.

The choice, Grants Pass v. Johnson, will make it simpler for states and cities to ban homeless folks from sleeping outdoors whereas punishing them with civil fines and even jail time. In the ruling, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court docket concluded that “generally applicable” legal guidelines like these in opposition to tenting couldn’t qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In her dissent, Sotomayor referred to as the brand new ruling “unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

“Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime,” Sotomayor stated. “For some people, sleeping outside is their only option. The City of Grants Pass jails and fines those people for sleeping anywhere in public at any time, including in their cars, if they use as little as a blanket to keep warm or a rolled-up shirt as a pillow. For people with no access to shelter, that punishes them for being homeless. That is unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

Sotomayor additionally identified that punishing homeless folks for sleeping outdoors with fines and jail time usually doesn’t have the meant impact of deterrence.

In one instance, Sotomayor cited a case out of Nashville by which a person experiencing homelessness for 20 years was arrested 198 occasions and had over 250 citations.

“When an outreach worker tried to help him secure housing, the worker had difficulty finding him for his appointments because he was frequently arrested for being homeless,” Sotomayor stated.

Because of his quite a few arrests for sleeping outdoors, the person’s case employee ultimately made him a T-shirt that learn “Please do not arrest me, my outreach worker is working on my housing.” Once he’d lastly secured housing, the person “had no further encounters with the police, no citations, and no arrests,” Sotomayer stated.

In a listening to on the case in April, Sotomayor didn’t mince phrases about what an absence of compassion for folks experiencing homelessness may in the end result in.

“Where do we put them if every city, every village, every town lacks compassion and passes a law identical to this, where are they supposed to sleep?” she requested. “Are they supposed to kill themselves not sleeping?”