The Activist Files

The Activist Files is a podcast by the Center for Constitutional Rights where we feature the stories of people on the front lines fighting for justice, including activists, lawyers, and artists. We interview movement partners, our clients, and people using storytelling to create change, and look to highlight lesser known aspects of the work. Listen to our latest episode here, or subscribe through your iPhone podcast app, or directly on iTunes or Spotify!

May 3, 2024

In episode 57 of The Activist Files, we’ll hear a discussion around Grants Pass v. Johnson, a case that went before the Supreme Court on April 22, 2024. According to the National Homelessness Law Center, “this case will decide whether cities are allowed to punish people for things like sleeping outside with a pillow or blanket, even when there are no safe shelter options.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, in our amicus brief, argued that the Supreme Court should rule that ordinances criminalizing homelessness violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. We’re joined by more than forty LGBTQIA+ rights groups who signed on in support of the brief. 

Amid a national homelessness crisis driven by a lack of affordable housing, the Court’s ruling in the case City of Grants Pass v. Johnson will have a profound effect on the rights and wellbeing of the hundreds of thousands of people without shelter in the United States. It will have a disproportionate impact on LGBTQIA+ people because they are unhoused at extremely high rates due to discrimination and bias.

Legislators behind the laws have openly stated that their goal is to force unhoused people out of Grants Pass, a city of 40,000 that has no homeless shelters. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the plaintiffs, issuing an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinances.

We’re joined by Eric Tars Senior, Policy Director at National Homelessness Law Center. 


Eric Tars serves as the National Homelessness Law Center’s Senior Policy Director, leading the development, oversight, and implementation of the Law Center’s policy advocacy agenda to cultivate a society where every person can live with dignity and enjoy their basic human rights, including the right to affordable, quality, and safe housing. Eric helped spearhead the launch of the Law Center’s national Housing Not Handcuffs campaign, has served as counsel of record in multiple precedent-setting cases, including Martin v. Boise in the 9th Circuit.



Podcast Transcript PDF