An ordinance in the town of Clinton, Louisiana required everyone to remain off the streets after 11 p.m. or risk a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail. The ordinance, applying to drivers as well as pedestrians, was enacted in May and renewed in July.   

The ACLU of Louisiana sued the City of Clinton, its Mayor and Police Chief, seeking an order barring enforcement of the curfew and an ultimate ruling that the curfew is illegal.  “The people of Clinton have been forced to remain indoors in violation of their rights to pursue their activities,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director.  “This law makes criminals out of people who want to be out past 11:00 pm – whether Clinton residents or visitors.  In a free country, restrictions such as this have no place.  It is not the business of the town leaders to decide what is bedtime for the rest of the community.”

After the curfew was enacted, the town of Clinton stopped drivers and pedestrians and cited the curfew against people in the community simply because they were out past bedtime. Plaintiff Thomas Mead, a resident of Clinton, was often out at night and needed to know that he can come and go without risk of being detained by police.

Just days after our suit was filed, the town of Clinton revoked the unlawful curfew that made town residents prisoners of their homes, and agreed to restore the freedom of movement to those living or visiting in the community. 
US District Judge Brian Jackson ordered the town to respond to the ACLU's lawsuit by close of business on Thursday, August 1. Instead, on July 31 the town council revoked the curfew, allowed the court deadline to pass, and agreed to reimburse the ACLU of Louisiana the sum of $637.30 in costs for filing and serving the lawsuit.
Clinton is the second Louisiana community sued by the ACLU over an unlawful curfew affecting adults. The city of Ville Platte recently settled a similar lawsuit, at a cost to town taxpayers of $16,893.48 for attorneys' fees and court costs.


Justin P. Harrison

Date filed

July 24, 2013


U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana