In 2011, the Occupy movement began. Occupiers seized space in dozens of public parks and in the American imagination, providing a compelling illustration of an inclusive format of political expression. In the courtroom, protesters sought injunctive relief on First Amendment grounds to protect the tent encampments where Occupiers slept. In 2017, the last of the Occupy litigation ended; but the ramifications the Occupy cases hold for the First Amendment and expressive conduct remain unexamined.

This Comment takes an in-depth look at the adjudication of Occupiers’ First Amendment interest in sleeping in public parks. It analyzes the adjudication of the Occupy cases and contends that the pattern of judicial enforcement results from a desire to remove the appearance of disorder associated with houselessness. This Comment argues that the test used to set the scrutiny level for First Amendment expressive activity systematically disadvantages speech by and about houseless persons.