High School Students
Does a Curfew Discriminate Against Young People?
Case Abstracts Handout
This case is a fascinating teaching tool because the actual decision by the three-member appeals court panel hinged precisely on which standard to apply -- with the three justices splitting three ways. One judge said the act failed intermediate scrutiny because it wasn’t "substantially related" to the governmental interest. One said it failed strict scrutiny because it was not "narrowly tailored" to be the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. Even though the judges disagreed on their reasons (a chance for you to discuss concurring opinions), they agreed that the law failed to pass constitutional muster, so the law was struck down.
The remaining judge applied the rational relationship test, and upheld the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that it was rationally related to the government’s interest. This judge filed a dissenting opinion.
You can discuss with the students how picking which test to use really decides cases such as this. If you’re applying strict or intermediate scrutiny, nine times out of ten you’ll probably declare the law or practice unconstitutional. If you apply the "rational basis" test, there’s a far better chance the law or practice will be upheld.
For more on the issues raised by curfews, see Quth v. Strauss, 11 F 3d 448 (Fifth Circuit, 1993), in which the Dallas curfew was upheld; Hutchins v. District of Columbia, 942 F. Supp 665 (D DC, 1996), in which the district court struck down the DC curfew; and Hutchins v. District of Columbia, in which the divided three-judge panel agreed that the District curfew was unconstitutional. See the decision.
>>Does a Curfew Discriminate Against Young People?
>>Handout: Case Abstracts
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