The Supreme Court refused to consider a case against a Charlottesville, Virginia curfew and thereby allowed it to remain in effect. The curfew was midnight to 5 a.m. weekdays and 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays — for anyone under 17.
A federal appeals court previously ruled that the city, “was constitutionally justified in believing that its curfew would materially assist its first stated interest — that of reducing juvenile violence and crime.” The court also added that the curfew serves to protect children and supports parental efforts to discipline their children.
The curfew’s many exceptions possibly influenced the Supreme Court. Charlottesville officials specifically pointed out that their curfew had more exceptions that other city curfews, such as the one in Washington, DC, which had been ruled unconstitutional.
The Charlottesville curfew, which took effect in early 1997, contains exceptions for minors accompanied by a parent or on an errand for a parent and in possession of an explanatory note, or attending various school, religious or civic activities.
More importantly, exceptions also exist for minors working or commuting to or from work during those hours, or for minors “exercising First Amendment rights … such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and the right of assembly.”
Therefore, the Supreme Court may have indirectly indicated that only curfews with a First Amendment exception are constitutional. If your city’s curfew does not include the exception, it may be unconstitutional.
Even without the exception, you may still have a First Amendment right to protest the curfew at any time. You can use our stickers to force the courts to decide if the First Amendment exception allows you to protest the curfew.
We would have preferred that the Supreme Court rule that the curfew, even with the exception, is not Constitutional. However, the Supreme Court ruling does not discourage us because the Charlottesville curfew allows people under 17 to exercise their First Amendment rights..
Learn more about your rights by reading this essential article about how judges decide cases