Juvenile Curfew Ordinances and the Constitution

Recognizing that a legislature must decide whether to enact a juvenile curfew without the benefit of conclusive data on the effectiveness of such laws, the remainder of this Note will focus primarily upon the constitutional issues raised by such ordinances. The freedom of movement that is limited by a curfew is, it will be argued, an unenumerated right protected by the ninth and fourteenth amendments. The constitutional rights of juveniles, however, -are not necessarily coextensive with those of adults. Certain characteristics of juveniles-in particular, their lesser capacity for reason and self-control-imply that the strength of their right to freedom of movement is less than that of adults. The juvenile’s right, then, should not be accorded sufficient weight to overcome the substantial countervailing public interests served by juvenile curfew ordinances. Furthermore, since these ordinances do not involve either a suspect classification or a fundamental interest, they should also withstand an equal protection challenge.