City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

The City of Grants Pass, Oregon, instituted local ordinances that nominally prohibit camping, but in reality criminalize homelessness by penalizing individuals for sleeping in public with rudimentary bedding supplies, such as a blanket, a pillow, or a cardboard box. Unhoused residents of Grants Pass brought a lawsuit challenging this practice, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ultimately held that these ordinances violate the Eighth Amendment when applied to individuals who have no access to alternative shelter. The City of Grants Pass sought certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was granted.

Juvenile Law Center, Lamba Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Baker McKenzie filed an amicus brief, joined by 223 experts on unhoused youth, in the United States Supreme Court. Our brief urged the Court to affirm the Ninth Circuit decision and highlighted the impact of these ordinances on the millions of youth who are forced out of housing each year, including those who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, such as youth with foster care experience, LGBTQIA+ youth, youth of color, and youth who have been incarcerated. The brief emphasized that youth face countless barriers to obtaining shelter and permanent housing. Our brief further argued that criminalization is a harmful and ineffective response to homelessness, especially for youth, and detailed the ways that imposing penalties can lead to criminal legal system involvement that harms youth and creates obstacles to education, employment, and economic stability. 



Marsha Levick, Vic Wiener, Jessica Feierman, Christopher Lin, Breanne Schuster


Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere

Court Documents