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  • Writer's pictureArizona Senate Republicans

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees with Republican-Led Arizona State Legislature in Legal Battle to Address Crime-Ridden Tent Cities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         

Friday, June 28, 2024



U.S. Supreme Court Agrees with Republican-Led Arizona State Legislature

in Legal Battle to Address Crime-Ridden Tent Cities

 

PHOENIX, ARIZONA— A major victory in the fight to address Arizona's homeless crisis after the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the position argued by Senate President Warren Petersen in an amicus brief on a case originating out of Oregon, clearing the way for states and local jurisdictions to adopt policies tackling the issue of tent cities and other encampments plagued with public safety and public health concerns.

 

In July of last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson finding a constitutional "right" for individuals to camp and sleep on sidewalks, in parks, on playgrounds, and other public places, in defiance of traditional health, safety, and welfare laws. The court's bizarre interpretation of the Eight Amendment effectively required states and municipalities to surrender public spaces to homeless encampments, with all the criminal activity, drug abuse, violence, and dangerous diseases associated with them.

 

Two months later, while Phoenix residents were pleading for help with the homeless encampment near the Arizona Capitol known as "The Zone," President Petersen filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case. The request was accepted in January of this year, and the Court confirmed today the Ninth Circuit seized a policymaking area reserved for state and local lawmakers, while it also wrongfully classified the enforcement of laws to limit homeless encampments as "cruel and unusual punishment," and that the Ninth Circuit's ruling blocked state and local lawmakers from doing their jobs to mitigate the problems surrounding homeless encampments.

 

According to a 2024 report from Common Sense Institute, Arizona is spending approximately $1 billion yearly on homelessness, with an estimated 14,000 people experiencing homelessness statewide. In 2023, 7600 of those individuals were living on the streets.

 

"This ruling is a victory in our state's efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis destroying lives and livelihoods within our communities on a daily basis," said President Petersen. "Our children shouldn't be forced to walk to school on streets littered with needles, feces, and trash. The individuals camping out should be discouraged from this practice through enforceable laws and be provided with the mental health or substance abuse services they need to overcome this terrible situation. Our Governor and other progressive elected officials serving in Arizona no longer have any excuses as to why we must continue to allow these encampments. We look forward to crafting common sense legislation on this matter in the near future, and for the Governor to do the right thing by signing those bills. While Arizona's attorney general remains absent on these issues of grave importance to our state, the Legislature remains committed to defending our laws and fighting against both judicial and executive overreach."

 

 

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For more information, contact:

Kim Quintero

Director of Communications | Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus

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