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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW the vernon, conn., teen curfew ordinance unconstitutionally infringes on the equal protection rights of minors or their parents, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 2. Ramos v. Town of Vernon, No. 01-7118. The ordinance, which included such exceptions as minors out on emergency errands and for work-related reasons, was enacted with stated purposes of protecting minors from each other, promoting parental responsibility and protecting the public from “nocturnal mischief and crime committed by minors.” Parents, guardians and minors could all face penalties for violation of the ordinance. Angel Ramos was found in violation when he was out past the curfew, not within one of the exceptions, but with his mother’s permission. He challenged the ordinance’s constitutionality as violative of his First and 14th amendment rights, and his mother said the ordinance violated her due process rights as a parent to raise her children as she saw fit. A Connecticut federal court dismissed the Ramos’ claims, but a divided 2d Circuit panel reversed. Applying an intermediate level of scrutiny, the court found that the ordinance was not substantially related to an important governmental interest, particularly the articulated interest of promoting parental responsibility. “While we agree that the goal of encouraging parental responsibility is an admirable one, we cannot help but observe the irony of the supposition that responsible parental decision-making may be promoted by the government removing decision-making authority from responsible parents and exercising that authority itself.” Further, there was no evidence that the ordinance promoted the stated concerns regarding gangs and violence.

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