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5 Saint Thomas Law Review 389 (1993)


The analysis of the constitutionality of curfew ordinances provides a window into a process that obfuscates rather than clarifies the nature of the constitutional problem. By defining the issue as one governed by rights, we limit our ability to comprehend the larger issue of how the Supreme Court has defined the relationship between minors, the family and society. The issue of the rights of minors as they relate to curfew ordinances offers a measure of solace by reducing the number of disturbing questions which concern cultural change and public policy decisions relating to the family. An understanding of this process requires that the legal issue, as to the constitutionality of juvenile curfews defined by the courts, be more fully understood. To that end, Part I will examine those decisions and their results. Part II will follow with an examination of the Supreme Court's vision of the American Family. Part III examines the extent to which the attempt to define the issue solely as one of constitutional rights represents a natural extension of the Court's view of the family and the Court's acceptance of the political and cultural assumptions underlying the establishment of the juvenile court system. These assumptions are particularly manifest in the Supreme Court's opinion in In re Gault. Throughout this section, the Court's view of the rights of minors and the importance of the family is juxtaposed with selected views of the Commission to demonstrate that, notwithstanding the radically different origins of the two bodies, the respective conclusions are remarkably similar. Finally, there are, hopefully, some lessons to be learned from this excursion into the realm of juvenile curfews.

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Juvenile Law Commons