Courthouse Steps Oral Argument: City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

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City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson questions if prohibiting sleeping/camping on public property under the Grants Pass Municipal Code breaches the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment." These provisions typically carry civil penalties but can escalate to criminal penalties.

Initially filed in 2018, this case draws parallels to Martin v. City of Boise, where the Ninth Circuit ruled that criminalizing such activities breached the Eighth Amendment. The Grants Pass case raises a critical question: do civil penalties for similar actions also infringe on constitutional protections?

Following the Ninth Circuit's 2022 decision favoring the plaintiffs, led by Gloria Johnson, the city appealed, leading to a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for Monday, April 22. This case sits at the intersection of Criminal Law, Federalism and Separation of Powers, and Property Rights, addressing fundamental questions about local governance, public health, and individual freedoms.

Join us as we break down and analyze how oral argument went the same day.


  • Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation, Goldwater Institute


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.