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Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Grants Pass v. Johnson, a case addressing whether the enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” of people experiencing homelessness prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. While the ordinances in question are framed innocuously enough, what the Court is really considering is whether localities can pass laws that in effect criminalize homelessness.  

Lambda Legal partnered with the Juvenile Law Center and pro bono counsel Baker & McKenzie LLP to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the parties challenging the ordinances that was joined by a diverse group of more than 223 national, state, regional, and local organizations who work directly or indirectly with the staggering number of unhoused youth or youth at risk of housing instability; individuals who currently or formerly experienced housing instability as youth; legal professionals; child services professionals; academics; advocates; and others. The brief highlights the unique harms of the unconstitutional criminalization of homelessness for youth, most particularly, marginalized youth who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, including youth who have been in foster care, youth who identify as LGBTQIA+, youth of color, and youth with juvenile or criminal legal system involvement.