NYRA of Southeast Florida, one of NYRA’s most active chapters, has filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the city of West Palm Beach for its unconstitutional youth curfew ordinance. The lawsuit represents a milestone for NYRA, being the first lawsuit filed by a NYRA chapter, and the first anti-curfew lawsuit ever filed by a youth-led youth civil rights organization.
The disputed curfew ordinance prohibits anyone younger than 18 from being in a public place or any place of business within a certain area and during certain hours. The ordinance does contain an exemption for any activity protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and for traveling to or from any such activity. However, the lawsuit argues that “[a]lmost all conceivable actions of a minor including associating with his friends and family, speaking, traveling freely etc. are covered by the First Amendment.” Therefore, the curfew ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and impossible to legally enforce.
NYRA-SEFL had negotiated for several months with West Palm Beach in an effort to convince the city to voluntarily rescend its curfew, meeting with the mayor and arguing before the city commission that the curfew is unjust, unconstitutional and ineffective. However, when the city declined to repeal the ordinance in spite of the evidence of its illegality, the chapter retained accomplished Boca Raton civil rights attorney Barry Silver to fight for the constitutional rights of youth in federal court.
Last month, a youth curfew ordinance in Rochester, New York was struck down by that state’s Supreme Court. NYRA-SEFL and its attorney intend for this groundbreaking lawsuit to have a similar positive result for the youth of Florida and the nation. “There is no doubt that we will see this through to the end. We will continue to work against this oppressive and illegally-enforced ordinance until justice prevails and it is repealed,” NYRA-SEFL president Jeffrey Nadel said in a statement. Read news coverage of the suit in NYRA’s Youth Rights News Wire.