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SCOTUS Declines To Hear Appeal In Major Homeless Camping Case

Brian Bull

Homeless advocates are cheering the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal in a pivotal case out of Idaho.  KLCC’s Brian Bull got reaction from someone living on the streets of Eugene.

The case, City of Boise versus Martin, was ruled on last year by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  It declared it is unconstitutional to prosecute people for sleeping on public property if there’s not enough housing or shelter available. Many cities across the West region with high homeless rates wanted the nation’s highest court to hear an appeal on the ruling. They argued local governments lacked direction on how much shelter to provide.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Eric Jackson, a homeless advocate who is part of the current 11th Avenue encampment.

Eric Jackson is a homeless advocate camping on 11th Avenue. He says this is a major development.

“The court was very specific on the group status.  So the status of being homeless was cemented, and that’s huge. That status is something that we can and will use in the cases going forward.

"So I’m excited.”

The ruling’s a setback for cities wanting to regulate sidewalk encampments. The 2018 ruling still allows police to intervene if there’s criminal activity.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.