Ninth Circuit Refusal to Overturn Change Therapy Ban Draws Major Dissent

Jan 30, 2014

San Francisco, CA—Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected Liberty Counsel’s petition asking the court to rehear en banc Pickup v. Brown. The court let stand (with minor modifications) an earlier panel decision upholding the state’s ban restricting youth from receiving any counsel from a licensed therapist to change unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity. The refusal to rehear the case drew a strong dissent from three judges.

United States Ninth Circuit Judge O’Scannlain wrote the dissent. He wrote that the Supreme Court made clear, “legislatures cannot nullify the First Amendment’s protections for speech by playing this labeling game.” “Indeed, authoritative precedents have established that neither professional regulations generally, nor even a more limited subclass of such rules, remain categorically outside of the First Amendment’s reach,” O’Scannlain wrote.

“The panel cites no case holding that speech, uttered by professionals to their clients, does not actually constitute ‘speech’ for purposes of the First Amendment. And that should not surprise us—for the Supreme Court has not recognized such a category,” the dissent said. “The Supreme Court has chastened us lower courts for creating, out of whole cloth, new categories of speech to which the First Amendment does not apply. But, that is exactly what the panel’s opinion accomplishes in this case.”

O’Scannlain said the threshold issue is the constitutionality of “California remov[ing] from the First Amendment’s ambit the speech of certain professionals when the State disfavors its content or its purpose.” In that regard, he says, “The Supreme Court has definitively and unquestionably said ‘No.’”

Liberty Counsel will now ask the Supreme Court to review this case. Liberty Counsel has filed two similar cases on change therapy in New Jersey, King v. Christie and Doe v. Christie. Change therapy bans have also been proposed in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington. Liberty Counsel is communicating with legislators in those states as well. “If legislation passes in other states, and minors and counselors ask for our help, we will file similar lawsuits,” Staver said.

“The minors we represent do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior. They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Legislators and judges in the state of California have essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and told them that their confusion, caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser, is normal and that they should pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior, regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to trump their unwanted attractions,” said Staver. “We won’t give up. We will continue fighting to protect these young people from homosexual activists and tyrannical politicians for as long as it takes.”

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

Click LIKE If You Support Religious Freedom!

this Liberty Alert or Twitter

Join Freedom Federation   Freedom Federation  and view us on  You Tube Videos