NEW ORLEANS—The ACLU of Louisiana has filed suit to invalidate an ordinance in the town of Clinton, Louisiana that requires everyone to remain off the streets after 11 pm or risk $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail. The ordinance, applying to drivers as well as pedestrians, was enacted in May and recently renewed.
The ACLU of Louisiana sued the City of Clinton, its Mayor and Police Chief, seeking an order barring enforcement of the curfew and an ultimate ruling that the curfew is illegal. “The people of Clinton have been forced to remain indoors in violation of their rights to pursue their activities,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. “This law makes criminals out of people who want to be out past 11:00 pm – whether Clinton residents or visitors. In a free country, restrictions such as this have no place. It is not the business of the town leaders to decide what is bedtime for the rest of the community.”
Since the curfew was enacted, the town of Clinton has stopped drivers and pedestrians and cited the curfew against people in the community simply because they were out past bedtime. Plaintiff Thomas Mead, a resident of Clinton, is often out at night and needs to know that he can come and go without risk of being detained by police.
“Curfews are illegal unless the government has lost all control. There is no such emergency in Clinton,” said Justin Harrison, ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director. “It’s not wartime. The town is not under threat of attack. The National Guard has not been called in. There is no basis for forcing people to remain indoors, and it’s time to give them back the freedom they deserve.”