7th Circuit throws out Indiana curfew law

By The Associated Press
01.23.04

Editor’s note: Indiana’s curfew law was struck down for the third time on July 23 when U.S. District Judge John Tinder ruled that the measure infringed on parental rights. State lawmakers had revised the previous law after it was overturned by the 7th Circuit. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union challenged the revised statute, which took effect in March, on behalf of a woman who complained that it prohibited her 17-year-old daughter from being out late without adult supervision, even if she had given the teen permission to do so.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's curfew law remains unconstitutional even after legislators rewrote the law to make it less restrictive, a federal appeals court ruled.

The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 yesterday against the law, saying it interfered both with minors' First Amendments rights and with parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit.

Indianapolis police said they would immediately stop enforcing the law, which bans minors from being out past 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends.

Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Attorney General's Office, would not comment immediately on the ruling.

It was the second time in less than four years that a court had thrown out the state curfew law.

U.S. District Judge John Tinder struck down the law in July 2000, saying it was too restrictive and cramped the First Amendment rights of minors. The following year, the General Assembly passed a new law allowing minors to get out of a curfew violation if they were engaged in religious or free-speech or assembly activities with the permission of their parents.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union argued the revised law was still too restrictive because it held protected activities to be a defense in court rather than a reason to prevent an arrest.

The court challenge grew out of the August 1999 arrest of 15-year-old Colin Hodgkins. The teen was arrested by Marion County Sheriff's officers while leaving a restaurant in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Broad Ripple three minutes after curfew.

The case, Hodgkins v. Peterson, will now be returned to the federal court in Indianapolis.