Youth Curfew Violates Constitution, Court Says

     (CN) – New York’s highest court struck down a youth curfew in Rochester, N.Y., as unconstitutional. “Quite simply, the proof offered by the city fails to support the aims of the curfew,” Judge Jones wrote for the 5-2 majority of the New York Court of Appeals.

     Rochester City Council adopted a curfew in 2006 for minors under 17 from midnight to 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The curfew began at 11 p.m. on the other days of the week.
     A boy named Jiovon and his father, Thomas, who kept their last name anonymous, said the curfew violated the federal and state Constitutions by restricting the freedoms of movement, expression and association.
     The lower court granted the city’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the curfew does not interfere with the rights of children and parents.
     The appellate division saw things differently, reversing the decision. The justices said the curfew violated parents’ rights to control their children’s behavior. They also ruled that there is no factual evidence tying the curfew to its state goal, which is to curb crime committed by minors.
     The New York Court of Appeals affirmed.
     “The curfew fails to offer parents enough flexibility or autonomy in supervising their children,” Judge Jones wrote. “An exception allowing for parental consent to the activities of minors during curfew hours is of paramount importance to the due process rights of parents.”
     Judges Pigott and Smith dissented, saying the curfew is “substantially related” to the city’s important goal of preventing minors from committing or becoming the victims of nighttime crime.

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