General Civil Liberties Press Release

07.09.01

ACLU Sues North Royalton over Curfew Ordinance

Law Interferes with Parents' Rights to Raise Their Children

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation will file suit in United States District Court in Cleveland on the afternoon of July 10, 2001, challenging a North Royalton curfew ordinance which violates the fundamental right of parents to raise their children as they see fit without unwarranted interference from the government.

The North Royalton ordinance forbids minors under sixteen years of age from being on the street or in a public place between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Minors sixteen and over must be in by midnight. The ordinance also subjects parents to criminal liability if they allow their children to be out past curfew. “As a parent, you are forbidden to give your child permission to go to a friend’s house for a cup of coffee after work because your child will have to travel home on public roads in violation of curfew,” said Ian Friedman, a Cleveland attorney who is handling the case as a volunteer for the ACLU. “This law clearly interferes with a parent’s fundamental liberty right, as guaranteed by the Constitution, to conduct the care and upbringing of his or her children.” Courts across the country are divided on whether curfew laws are constitutional, and they have been struck down in a number of jurisdictions.

“As a crime-fighting tool, curfews are extremely questionable,” stated Chris Link, the ACLU’s Executive Director. “Police already have the power to detain juveniles – at any time of day – whom they suspect of criminal activity. All that a law like this does is to subject good kids, who are on the street at night for any number of legitimate reasons, to criminal penalties.”

The suit asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and to forbid the City from enforcing its provisions.