The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded a New York State Court of Appeals ruling that declared Rochester’s youth curfew unconstitutional. The NYCLU filed an amicus brief in the case.

“We applaud the court for recognizing that Rochester’s curfew violated the constitutional rights of parents and teenagers,” said Gary Pudup, director of the NYCLU’s Genesee Valley Chapter and a retired Monroe County Sheriff’s police lieutenant. “City leaders can now focus on developing lawful strategies that improve public safety and protect our children.”

In a 5-2 decision issued today, the Court of Appeals upheld an Appellate Division ruling that invalidated the 2006 curfew ordinance. The majority of judges ruled that the curfew violates the long-recognized rights of parents to control the upbringing of their children. They also argued that the curfew’s rationale is undermined by statistics showing that youth in Rochester are more likely to be involved in crime during hours outside the curfew.

The case, Jiovon Anonymous and Thomas Anonymous v. City of Rochester, was filed by a father and son after the city enacted the curfew, which prohibits children younger than 17 from being in any public place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

In February 2007, a lower court upheld the curfew. The Appellate Division reversed that judgment in October 2008, ruling that the curfew unconstitutionally infringes on minors’ free speech rights. The NYCLU had filed court papers in support of the curfew challenge.

“Improving public safety is a laudable goal,” Pudup said. “And there are ways to accomplish it that don’t involve infringing on the Constitution.”