Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic Statement on Johnson v. Grants Pass SCOTUS Case

Syracuse University College of Law’s Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC) is proud to join 43 other organizations, including the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the UCLA Veterans Clinic, by submitting an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Johnson v. Grants Pass.  The Amicus Brief reinforces the duty to ensure that the voices of our nation’s veterans are heard as part of the discourse surrounding this case.  There are over 35,000 unhoused veterans in our country, and fining or arresting unsheltered veterans unfairly complicates their pathway to stable housing.

As a recipient of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s new Legal Services for Homeless Veterans grant, the VLC has a new appreciation for the challenges facing homeless veterans.  We are keenly aware of how difficult it can be for veterans to navigate and secure VA benefits— especially for veterans who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. We’ve seen firsthand the inequities rendered in the lives of homeless veterans when complex legal battles and unjust rulings prevent them from receiving critical benefits. 

As a legal services and outreach organization dedicated to serving the veteran community, we have a particular interest in this case because of the importance of ensuring that criminal enforcement actions do not further complicate access to housing, medical care, and benefits.  This case offers the Supreme Court an ideal vehicle to guide the Ninth Circuit and local governments in how to best address homelessness and promote positive outcomes for our nation’s veterans, which has far-reaching implications, even for our work here in Syracuse.

Professor Elizabeth Kubala

Executive Director, Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic