Juvenile Curfew Ordinance Found Unconstitutional

Ramos v. Town of Vernon, 331 F.3d 315 (2d Cir. 2003); 71(48) U.S. Law Week 1772-73 (June 17, 2003)

The Second Circuit struck down the juvenile curfew ordinance of a town in Connecticut. The ordinance made it unlawful for any person under 18 to be in any public place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or between midnight and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.  Allowed exceptions included juveniles accompanied by an adult or juveniles engaged in employment.  The curfew had three stated goals: protecting minors from harm at night, protecting the general population from nighttime juvenile crime, and promoting responsible parenting. The court determined the ordinance infringed "a minor's right to move about freely when not prohibited from doing so by his or her parents" and that it should receive "intermediate scrutiny" under the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.  This in turn required that the town show a "direct, substantial relationship" between the factual premises of the curfew and its restrictions.  The Second Circuit concluded there was insufficient evidence juveniles commit or are victims of nocturnal street crimes to justify the

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1