In the Spring of 1998, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Washington, DC curfew, which was passed in the summer of 1995, was unconstitutional. The District of Columbia appealed the ruling and the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals.
In last spring’s opinion, two of the three circuit court judges found that youths have constitutional rights to move about and said those rights could not be overridden unless the District demonstrated a compelling need and showed the law would have its intended effect. However, the third judge on the court dissented because he did not believe minors have “a fundamental right to be unaccompanied on the streets at night.”
This past January, those three judges and the additional eight judges on the appeals court heard the appeal. The District lawyers argued, like so many other intolerant officials around the country, that the measure was necessary to reduce crime. The ACLU, which is representing the youth of DC, argued that the restrictions unfairly target minors and violated their rights of equal protection and due process under the law.
If the appeals court supports the District’s argument that curfews are constitutional if they reduce crime, then many towns will immediately enact 24-hour “curfews.” The crime argument is conceivably ridiculous because, like San Diego, more youth crime probably occurs during the day. If the District actually wanted to reduce crime, then the curfew would be during the daytime hours, or about 3 pm to 7 pm.
The real reason for the DC curfew is the demands of intolerant politicians, who want to win votes by stealing other people’s rights. The same tactic is used in the war on “drugs,” which is really a War on Americans.
The verdict of the appeals court will only affect the youth in the District of Columbia. However, the loser of the appeal could bring the case before the Supreme Court, which influences the rights of all American Citizens. If the Supreme Court struck down the DC curfew, then many similar curfew laws would automatically be unconstitutional.
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