In 2000, 15-year-old Colin Hodgkins had a late dinner at the Steak ’n Shake in Marion County, Indiana, where he and some friends had stopped

In 2000, 15-year-old Colin Hodgkins had a late dinner at the Steak ’n Shake in Marion County, Indiana, where he and some friends had stopped after attending a school soccer game. As Colin was leaving the restaurant, he was arrested for violating the state’s curfew law. He was taken by the police to the local high school, where he was questioned and required to undergo drug tests before being released to his mother. At the time, Indiana law prohibited minors from being out in public after 11:00 p.m. without parental accompaniment. Hodgkins’s mother filed suit against the state, arguing that the Indiana statute violated her son’s First Amendment rights by preventing him and other teenagers from attending midnight mass or a late political rally. When the district court agreed with her, the state amended the statute to make such late-night activities exceptions to the curfew. Colin then challenged the amended statute, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed that the statute dissuaded minors from engaging in protected activities because they risked arrest, detention, and drug tests if they did so. In the words of the court, “[W]e hold that the curfew law, even with the new affirmative defenses for First Amendment activity, is not narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest and fails to allow for ample alternative channels for expression. The statute restricts a minor’s access to any public forum during curfew hours, and the affirmative defense for participating in First Amendment activities does not significantly reduce the chance that a minor might be arrested for exercising First Amendment rights.” In 2003 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled a similar city ordinance that had been enacted by the city of Vernon, Connecticut. Nonetheless, at last count about 500 cities in the United States had curfew regulations in effect, and courts are split on the constitutionality of such statutes. In 2000, a Texas court upheld a curfew ordinance that was enacted by the city of San Antonio. The San Antonio Youth Curfew ordinance prohibits youths under the age of 17 from being in public places within the city between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday and between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. on Friday or Saturday. In the 2000 case, a teenager had been stopped by the police for violating the city’s curfew law. He was subsequently searched, and the police found marijuana on his person. About the same time, a curfew law passed by the District of Columbia was found unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored to serve the District’s compelling interest in addressing the problems of crime and victimization by and against minors in the least intrusive manner. As these cases show, the constitutionality of curfew statutes is unclear. The laws that have been overturned were generally seen as being too vague and as restricting the First Amendment rights of the teenagers involved. Many officials believe, however, that such laws are needed to combat criminal activity by juveniles.