Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project
The New Jersey Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project (“the Project”) seeks to get New Jersey municipalities to repeal loitering ordinances that should have been -- but were not -- repealed when the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice was enacted in 1979. The Project has successfully had loitering ordinances repealed in over 30 towns. For a summary listing of all the towns see Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project page.
Because of pressure from the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, the Township of Woodbridge voted on June 10th to repeal their prohibitions against loitering and disorderly conduct.
An article covering the repeal can be found on myCentralJersey.com's website.
There are many towns throughout New Jersey that have invalid ordinances on their books. The NJLP Preempted Ordinance Project could use your help in getting these ordinances repealed.
Below are the steps for reviewing the ordinances and determining if they are unconstitutional. Below those steps is a form letter you can tailor and send to the towns with unconstitutional curfews.
Step 1 – Review the town ordinances.
As a result of pressure from the NJLP Pre-empted Ordinance Repeal project three towns are looking to rescind their curfew laws. Thanks to NJLP member and project volunteer Jim Tosone for his work.
- Bergenfield has introduced Ordinance 15-2477 repealing their curfew law. (update: see coverage here)
- Hasbrouck Heights has introduced Ordinance 2236 repealing their curfew. This Ordinance is scheduled to be voted on during the Council meeting on May 12th.
- North Arlington has agreed to introduce an ordinance repealing their curfew.
Three additional towns have been notified as to the illegality of their ordinances. We are waiting to hear back from Saddlebrook, Northvale, and Moonachie.
Following is my letter to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office and Bridgeton City Officials regarding the Bridgeton Municipal Court's continued practice of downgrading statutory violations to a municipal code provision that hasn't been in effect since 2003.
I contacted the Prosecutor's Office regarding the same issue in 2010 and was told that it was resolved. Unfortunately, the superseded code provision is still being used.
April 22, 2015
Jennifer Webb-McCrae, Cumberland County Prosecutor
Rebecca J. Bertram, Bridgeton City Solicitor
Marie L. Keith, Bridgeton Municipal Court Administrator
Dear Prosecutor McCrae and Mesdames Bertram and Keith:
As a result of a letter from NJLP member and the NJLP Pre-Empted Ordinance Repeal project volunteer, Jim Tosone, the town of Montvale is considering repealing their curfew ordinance. Read about it at northjersey.com.
The Mullica Township Committee was considering an ordinance banning dressing in clothes meant for the opposite sex, begging, lewd books, houses of ill repute, or any behavior that may have a negative impact on the quality of life of the residents.
The proposed ordinance was not only extremely vague, but would be unconstitutional. John Paff, chair of the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, sent a letter to the township committee pointing out that such an ordinance would be invalid. As a result of this letter and many residents questioning the need for such an ordinance, the Township Committee has tabled the ordinance.
As a result of a request from the NJ Libertarian Party, the Borough of Paulsboro has repealed Chapter 28, Curfew of the Code of the Borough of Paulsboro.
The repeal passed 5 to 1. Several councilmen stated objections. Councilman Corradetti expressed concern that police wouldn't be able to stop people from congregating on the streets. Councilman Stevenson, the lone no vote, blamed the illegality of loitering ordinances on the ACLU.
The NJ Libertarian Party strongly believes that the police should not have the power to stop people from congregating on the streets at all. All local loitering ordinances in New Jersey are invalid and unenforceable.
See the editorial written in support of repealing outdated loitering laws on The Press of Atlantic City website.
As a result of pressure from the NJ Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, Manville has repealed three loitering and curfew ordinances.
An article announcing the repeal has been published by The Manville news. A recent letter sent by by committee chair, John Paff to the Borough of Manville is below.
Does your town have an outdated ordinance? If so contact us and we will see what we can do.
Hon. W. Jeffery Hamilton, Mayor, and members of the
Paulsboro Borough Council
1211 Delaware Street
Paulsboro, NJ 08066
Via e-mail only
Dear Mayor Hamilton and Council members:
For the reasons that follow, I believe that Chapter 28 of Paulsboro's Code, establishing a juvenile curfew, is unconstitutional and that a person against whom enforcement is sought may have a viable lawsuit against the Borough.
As a result of a request from the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, the Manville Borough Council has agreed to repeal their Morality Ordinance at their upcoming meeting on August 12th1. This ordinance covers loitering, being drunk, fighting, cursing, trespassing, lewdness, public nudity, annoying a school teacher, cursing at a police officer, and other things. The Manville News covers the story here.
Local laws like this in New Jersey are invalid because the 1978 criminal code preempts local ordinances like this. The 1978 criminal code specifically excluded several acts that were at one time illegal, including loitering, public drunkenness, and some consensual sexual acts.
Like many New Jersey municipalities, Cinnaminson Township (Burlington County) has a juvenile curfew ordinance that prohibits juveniles under the age of seventeen from being in public after 10:30 p.m. on week nights and midnight on weekends. The ordinance is on-line here.
Unlike most curfew ordinances, Cinnaminson's contains an exception for juveniles who are out after hours "exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and the right of assembly. "
In February 2013, the Township of Readington (Hunterdon County), passed a "disorderly conduct" ordinance. More information and links to the ordinance and other related documents, including Township Attorney Sharon Dragan's half-hearted defense of the ordinance, are at the link in my reply to her.
One of my concerns involves part "c," which states:
During my research on pre-empted loitering ordinances I found that Somers Point repealed their invalid ordinance in 1991 - yet the police and courts are still enforcing this ordinance. Here is my letter to the Atlantic County Municipal Division Manager.
December 28, 2012
Tina Lalena, Municipal Division Manager
Atlantic County Superior Court
4997 Unami Blvd
Dear Ms. Lalena:
From researching records of the Somers Point Municipal Court, I have discovered that the court, on April 17, 2012, accepted a guilty plea to a violation of a municipal code provision that the City repealed in 1991.
On May 8th, Allentown Borough enacted a loitering ordinance.
It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 years to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon or to remaining in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, public places and public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, church parking lots, places of business carried on for profit to which the public is invited, vacant lots or other public places, either on foot or in any vehicle within the confines of the Borough on every day of the week, provided that the provisions of this section shall not apply to a minor when accompanied by his parent, guardian or other adult person having custody, care and control of the minor, or in the event the minor is upon an emergency errant or legitimate business directed or consented to by his parent, guardian or other adult person having care and custody of the minor.
The New Jersey Libertarian Party opposes such laws on the grounds that they violate a citizen's right to peacefully assemble. In addition, in the state of NJ, such laws have been deemed illegal by the courts.
I've sent a letter to the Borough Council pointing out the illegality of their ordinance. The letter was also sent to the Borough Attorney.
In the event that Allentown Borough does not repeal this law, I wll personally assist anyone charged with this in fighting this violation of the civil liberties of our youth.