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Illinois

February 16, 2005

Legislature Attempts to Codify Daytime Curfews

Daytime curfew initiatives are not new to Illinois, but until recently they have been confined to the local level. This changed in early February, however, when Representative Dave Winters introduced House Bill 1130, designed to make daytime curfews a statewide reality.

Filed at the request of a city police department, the bill would add a sentence to the law specifically giving municipalities the power to enact daytime curfews "to help combat truancy in the public schools."

While fighting truancy may be the motive for the bill, it would actually do more to undermine the freedom and liberty currently enjoyed by the citizens of Illinois. By design daytime curfews greatly restrict a child's freedom to be outside during school hours. In order to effectively enforce the curfew police officers have to stop and question all children who appear to be school age. Even a 17 year-old on their way to a part-time job or a music lesson would run the risk of being stopped and questioned.

HSLDA has previously challenged the constitutionality of daytime curfews in the courts and before city councils. Such curfews violate a minor's fundamental constitutional right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment on the public streets, highways and areas of the city without being subjected to prior governmental restraint. A daytime curfew also results in violations of a minor's Fourth Amendment rights to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. A police officer should not stop and question anyone unless there are actual facts that make it reasonable to suspect that a crime has occurred.

Upon receiving news of this bill HSLDA sent an e-lert to its Illinois members asking them to call the members of the Local Government Committee, who would be voting on the bill. After receiving an overwhelming number of calls Representative Winters agreed to hold the bill, stating that he wanted to work with homeschoolers to ensure the constitutional rights of Illinois citizens. In fact, some of the veteran legislators on the committee commented that they had never before received so many phone calls on an issue.

HSLDA will continue monitoring the bill to prevent any further attempts by Representative Winters to encourage daytime curfews.

For more information on daytime curfews, visit the Issues Library at http://www.hslda.org/docs/default.asp.