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MSU professor will attend US Supreme Court arguments over Oregon city's homeless policy

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen at near sunset in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2018. The Supreme Court will hear a case Jan. 18, 2023, that could make it more difficult for students with disabilities to quickly resolve problems when they're not getting needed assistance in public schools. The question for the justices involves a federal law that guarantees disabled students an education specific to their needs. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen at near sunset in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

A Michigan State University professor is concerned the U.S. Supreme Court may rule in a way that will increase the vulnerability of unhoused populations.

The court is hearing arguments Monday in a case, City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, involving an Oregon city's law punishing homeless people for sleeping outdoors in public spaces.

The law does not explicitly target homeless individuals. But a lower court ruled that because of the ordinance’s tight restrictions on sleeping outdoors, it effectively amounts to a homeless ban.

“Camping ban” ordinances have been adopted by many local governments in recent years as they try to respond to a rising number of homeless people in recent years.

Deyanira Nevarez Martinez is an assistant professor in MSU’s Urban and Regional Planning Program. She signed onto a court filing submitted by social scientists against the local ordinance the court is considering.

“My own research in Southern California has shown that local enforcement of anti-homelessness ordinances don’t only fail to resolve it, but it intensifies the plight of those who are experiencing it,” said Nevarez Martinez.

She plans to attend Monday’s oral arguments in Washington D.C.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.