Considering the present day problems and dangers associated with urban life, the State has a substantial interest in protecting the physical and mental welfare of minors and in guaranteeing public safety and order. The curfew ordinance does not unduly burden a parent's right to raise his or her child in an autonomous setting. Rather, it represents a minimal restriction on the parents' ability to allow their child to take up certain leisurely activities in public in the middle of the night. Parents can continue to allow their children to attend myriad functions after 10:00 p.m.; the statute only prohibits the unsupervised recreational acts of idling, strolling, playing, wandering and loitering.
In addition, the exceptions in section 58.01 allow a parent to entrust his or her child to the supervision of an adult of at least eighteen years. Thus, considering the legitimate limitations the State may impose on parental autonomy in the rearing of children, and reviewing the important governmental interests such as protecting children from the dangers presented by hanging out in the streets without any adult supervision in the nighttime and protecting society from the dangers posed by unsupervised minors during these late hours, the court finds that section 58.01 embodies and furthers the constitutionally recognized goals of protecting the welfare of children and society as a whole. Therefore, the City's legitimate interests greatly outweigh the limited intrusions upon parental autonomy interposed by section 58.01.
III. Equal Protection
Plaintiffs claim that section 58.01 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Complaint, P 46). Under plaintiffs' theory, the City's decision to impose a restriction on persons under the age of eighteen without imposing the same restrictions on all persons runs afoul of the constitutional guarantee to equal protection.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment mandates that "No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law." U.S. CONST., amend XIV. That command requires the State to treat alike all persons similarly situated. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439, 87 L. Ed. 2d 313, 105 S. Ct. 3249 (1985). Because the Ordinance distinguishes between two classes of individuals, individuals below eighteen years of age and those eighteen and older, equal protection analysis is appropriate.
First, the court must determine through which lens of equal protection analysis it must view the ordinance in question. As a general rule, courts presume the validity of all legislation and sustain classifications that are rationally related to a legitimate state interest. Id. Certain classifications, however, warrant heightened scrutiny by the reviewing court. Statutes that classify by race, national origin and alienage garner the highest level of judicial scrutiny and are upheld only upon a showing that they are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 192, 13 L. Ed. 2d 222, 85 S. Ct. 283 (1964); Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 29 L. Ed. 2d 534, 91 S. Ct. 1848 (1971). Similarly, gender classifications merit heightened review and fall except upon a showing that the classification substantially serves a important state interest. Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 723-724, 73 L. Ed. 2d 1090, 102 S. Ct. 3331 (1982).
Age distinctions drawn by the state fall within the ambit of the lowest level of scrutiny: the rational basis test applies. Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 115 L. Ed. 2d 410, 111 S. Ct. 2395 (1991); see also Massachusetts Board of Retirement v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 313, 49 L. Ed. 2d 520, 96 S. Ct. 2562 (1976). The rational basis test requires that the court review the statute and uphold the legislation if it is rationally related to a legitimate government interest. City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 442-443. Plaintiffs, however, do not argue that the Ordinance merits heightened scrutiny based on the age classification; they claim that section 58.01 infringes upon a minor's fundamental rights.
The abridgement of an individual's fundamental rights by a statute requires that the court subject the legislation to strict scrutiny. See e.g., Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 634, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600, 89 S. Ct. 1322 (1969); Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15, 395 U.S. 621, 626-28, 23 L. Ed. 2d 583, 89 S. Ct. 1886 (1969). Plaintiffs argue that section 58.01 curtails minors' freedom of movement and right to travel, in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court disagrees.
The juvenile curfew does not implicate any fundamental rights possessed by juveniles. Adults possess rights, deemed fundamental, that minors do not. See Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646; 115 S. Ct. 2386, 2391, 132 L. Ed. 2d 564 (1995) ("liberty in its narrow sense"); McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528, 549-551, 29 L. Ed. 2d 647, 91 S. Ct. 1976 (1971) (right to jury trial); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 168-169, 88 L. Ed. 645, 64 S. Ct. 438 (1944) (greater restrictions regarding child labor). Fundamental liberties are those liberties "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" such that "neither liberty nor justice would exist if [they] were sacrificed." Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325, 326, 82 L. Ed. 288, 58 S. Ct. 149 (1937). The right to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play late at night in an urban setting represents one of those liberties that is not coextensive between adults and minors. Although our concept of ordered liberty as embodied in the Fourteen Amendment contemplates that adults may move about freely in the public arena, United States v. Wheeler, 254 U.S. 281, 293, 65 L. Ed. 270, 41 S. Ct. 133 (1920); Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156, 164, 31 L. Ed. 2d 110, 92 S. Ct. 839 (1972), these historical ideas do not extend to children. "Traditionally at common law, and still today, unemancipated minors lack some of the most fundamental rights of self-determination--including even the right of liberty in its narrow sense, i.e., the right to come and go at will." Vernonia School Dist., 515 U.S. at 646; 115 S. Ct. at 2391. The conclusion that minors possess a lesser right to free movement than adults corresponds with society's recognition that minors are more vulnerable to society's dangers than adults and that juveniles lack the ability "to make critical decisions in an informed mature, manner." Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 634, 61 L. Ed. 2d 797, 99 S. Ct. 3035 (1979). Consequently, the court finds that the minors' circumscribed liberty interest is subject to some lesser degree of scrutiny, such as a showing by the State that the statute at issue is substantially related to an important governmental interest. See Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. at 723-724. Applying this intermediate test to the ordinance at hand, the court finds that Section 58.01 substantially serves the City's interests in protecting (1) children from the dangers present from unsupervised late night recreation in public places and (2) society from the problems posed by unsupervised juveniles at night.
Nevertheless, like the court in Qutb v. Strauss, 11 F.3d 488, 492 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1127, 114 S. Ct. 2134, 128 L. Ed. 2d 864 (1994) (upholding the Dallas curfew ordinance of minors), the court will review the Ordinance under the most powerful judicial lens of strict scrutiny. Under strict scrutiny, the City must demonstrate that the ordinance is narrowly drawn to further a compelling state interest. Shapiro, 394 U.S. at 634. Defendants meet their burden. The City indicates that the curfew ordinance furthers the State's interest in keeping unsupervised juveniles from the harms attendant to city life at night, as well as reducing late night juvenile crime. As the Supreme Court recognized in Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 61 L. Ed. 2d 797, 99 S. Ct. 3035 (1979), some minors lack the maturity of adults, and hence, are more susceptible to the dangers interposed by society and peer pressure. Id., 443 U.S. at 633-636. San Diego has an interest in limiting the presence of unsupervised minors in public in the late evening; its interest stems both from a desire to protect minors from the dangers attendant to city living as well as protect other citizens from the problems presented by unsupervised youths spending their nights in the streets. The court finds these interests compelling.
Section 58.01 is narrowly drawn to serve this interest; its tailoring demonstrates that it was not interposed for an illegitimate purpose. First, the curfew only limits the activities of unsupervised minors. The supervision of a juvenile by his parent, guardian or any adult to whom the parent or guardian has entrusted the child, withdraws the minor from the curfew's prohibitions. Second, the statute precludes the recreational activities of hanging out in the streets after 10:00 p.m. It does not restrict a minor from driving after 10:00 p.m. or traveling directly to or from any recreational activity. Only the recreational acts of loitering, strolling, idling, wandering, and playing in public are forbidden. Children moving directly through the public streets are less likely to become targets of crime or fall prey to peer pressure to become proponents of mischief. In addition, the curfew recognizes and protects several legitimate interests of minors, such as attending school functions and work. Finally, the statute allows minors to meet and engage in any recreational activity, even if they are unsupervised, as long as they engage in such activity in a non-public forum.
Contrary to plaintiffs' claims, the ordinance does not limit juveniles to be outside their homes after 10 p.m. in only four limited circumstances. The statute limits its reach to "public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, wharves, docks, or other public grounds, public places and public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, vacant lots, or other unsupervised places." SAN DIEGO MUNICIPAL CODE, ART. 8, § 58.01.
Unlike the ordinance struck down in Johnson v. City of Opelousas, 658 F.2d 1065 (5th Cir. 1981), section 58.01 does not prohibit minors "from attending associational activities such as religious or school meetings, organized dances, and theater and sporting events" or traveling to and from such activities. Id., 658 F.2d at 1072. Consequently, even under the most powerful lens of judicial review, strict scrutiny, the court concludes that section 58.01 does not offend the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of Equal Protection. To the contrary, the curfew comports with the City's prerogative to structure its legal system "to account for children's vulnerability [and] concern[,]" Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 635, and to further the City's compelling interests in securing juvenile and social welfare.
IV. The Fourth Amendment Challenge
Plaintiffs also challenge the ordinance under the Fourth Amendment. Specifically, plaintiffs contend that the curfew requires young adults to carry identification and display it on demand to a police officer who inquires of their age in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court disagrees.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates that:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons to be seized.
U.S. CONST., amend IV. This amendment is made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 213, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1669, 80 S. Ct. 1437 (1960). Section 58.01 does not authorize any officer to search or seize any person in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968), the Supreme Court discussed the contours of the Fourth Amendment with regard to police questioning of individuals suspected of breaking the law. The Court held that a police officer's investigation of a person's activity in a particular area constituted a limited intrusion. Id., 392 U.S. at 16-18, 26-28. In this regard, the Court found that such a limited intrusion could be predicated upon a reasonable suspicion that the detained person was involved in an illegal activity; a "reasonable suspicion" requires a showing by the officer that she relied upon specific and articulable facts which support the inference that (1) some criminal activity was occurring, and (2) the detained individual had been involved in such activity. Id., 392 U.S. at 18-19; Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 51, 61 L. Ed. 2d 357, 99 S. Ct. 2637 (1979); Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500, 75 L. Ed. 2d 229, 103 S. Ct. 1319 (1982.) Not only must the officer subjectively entertain this specific and articulable suspicion, the suspicion itself must meet the standard of objective reasonableness. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878, 45 L. Ed. 2d 607, 95 S. Ct. 2574 (1975).
Nothing in the curfew ordinance relieves the officer of the need to predicate a stop on such a "reasonable suspicion." An officer may detain individuals pursuant to section 58.01 based on myriad factors that support an inference that the person is a minor who is loitering in a public area. If the officer has probable cause to belief that the individual is under 18 and is loitering, idling, wandering, strolling or playing in violation of the curfew's mandate, the officer could lawfully arrest the individual for violation of section 58.01, in which case, the police contact a parent of the minor.
Moreover, nothing in the statute curtails a person's ability to challenge the validity of a police officer's actions that resulted in a citation under this ordinance pursuant to California Penal Code section 1538.5.
The court finds no basis to invalidate section 58.01 based on the Fourth Amendment.
Finally, the court addresses defendants attempt to avoid adjudication of this case under the standing doctrine. Defendants argue that plaintiffs lack standing to raise the issues herein, thereby depriving the court of jurisdiction to reach the merits. The court disagrees.
To establish standing sufficient to allege a case or controversy under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff must establish (1) injury in fact, i.e., the challenged statute threatens to invade a legally protected interest; (2) causation, i.e., the injury "can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant"; and (3) redressability, i.e., a favorable decision from the court will alleviate the injury. Northeastern Florida Chapter of Assoc'd General Contractors v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 124 L. Ed. 2d 586 (1993). At a minimum, plaintiffs Asha Settimo, Michael Evans and Terra Lawson-Remer meet these requirements.
Ms. Lawson-Remer is a seventeen year old high school student who regularly participates in recreational and social activities after 10:00 p.m. (Pl. Exh. 13). Ms. Settimo is a fifteen year old freshman at Grossmont College. (Pl. Exh. 14). She too engages in recreational and social activities during curfew hours. Id. Settimo was arrested for a curfew violation on July 10, 1995. Mr. Evans is the father of a seventeen year old high school student. (Pl. Exh. 15). He allows his daughter to participate in social and recreational activities during curfew hours; his daughter has been detained under Section 58.01 for a curfew violation. Id. The court finds that all three of these plaintiffs have demonstrated that they can challenge the curfew ordinance. All three maintain constitutional freedoms which are restricted by ordinance; a favorable decision by the court would lift those restrictions.
Consequently, the court possesses jurisdiction to reach the merits of plaintiffs' challenge.
Neither party disputes any material facts surrounding the imposition of San Diego Municipal Code section 58.01. Accordingly, summary judgment presents the appropriate disposition of this case. FED.R.CIV.P. 56. After considering the papers submitted by the parties and amicus curiae, the court finds that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment. In particular, the court finds that the Ordinance does not abridge plaintiffs' rights as guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Consequently, the court denies plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
MARILYN L. HUFF, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT