The federal appeals court for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the D.C. curfew does not violate the rights of teenagers or their parents. The opinion, which was supported by nine of the eleven judges on the court, concluded that the curfew gives parents “almost total discretion” over their children and helps parents control their children.
The decision does not bode well for other legal challenges to curfews around the country. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is just below the Supreme Court and is well respected by other judges, who usually review Circuit court decisions before issuing a ruling. Moreover, a clear majority of the judges supported the decision, which implies that there is little debate, at least among justices, that curfews are constitutional.
However, D.C.’s curfew and most other curfews, achieve constitutionality only by including multiple exceptions. Due to these exceptions, the Supreme Court recently let stand a Circuit Court ruling that deemed the Charlottesville curfew constitutional.
Resourceful people restricted by curfews can use the exceptions to their advantage. The simple ones include employment, travelling to and from work, and running errands for their parents. The more powerful, though vague exception is the right to engage in actions protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Those people who are expressing a political opinion may be exempt from the curfew.
Judges are not appointed to debate the usefulness of the Constitution, that is the job of legislators who may amend the document. However, many judges, like the ones in the D.C. Circuit, “legislate from the bench” by ignoring the constitution.
The constitution clearly states that all people have the right to freely assemble at any time. The nine judges on the D.C. Circuit blatantly trumped the Constitution with their ruling, which implies that the modern times, filled with gang wars and teen shootings, require modern solutions, curfews and more searches, and the Constitution should not stand in the way.
Since legislators and now judges ignore the constitution, you must peacefully fight for your right to freely assemble by protesting and urging the repeal of your local curfew.