Appeals court upholds California ban on reparative therapy, grants stay for appeal to Supreme Court
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Days after upholding California’s ban on reparative sexual therapy for minors, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday granted a stay of the law for 90 days, or as long as it takes for the Supreme Court to respond to a request for a stay of the law.
In a heavily dissented decision released on January 29, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by non-profit legal organization Liberty Counsel challenging the controversial California law. However, on Tuesday, the Court allowed conversion therapy to continue while Liberty Counsel appeals the case to the Supreme Court. As long as the appeal is filed in a timely way, the stay will be in place until the Supreme Court decides to hear or reject the appeal.
Signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012, Senate Bill 1172 was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013 but was blocked when Liberty Counsel obtained an injunction from the Ninth Circuit Court in December 2012.
The law bans any minors from receiving sexual orientation or other reparative sexual conversion therapy, even if done at the behest of teenagers and parents. The law says, in part, that “being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.”
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It was introduced by State Senator Ted Lieu, who said in August 2012 that the law was intended as an “attack on parental rights...because we don’t want to let parents harm their children.”
The law was upheld in August 2013 by the Ninth Circuit Court.
The Jan. 29th decision slightly modified the August decision and declared that SB 1172 is not in violation of the right to free speech by teenagers, parents, or therapy practitioners.
The Court said SB 1172 regulates “professional conduct,” not “speech,” and therefore is constitutional. However, three judges said in their dissent that the decision to not rehear the case amounted to the Court “entirely [exempting] such regulation from the First Amendment.”
The dissent, written by Judge O'Scannlain, also said the panel went against “recent Supreme Court precedent, ignores established free speech doctrine, misreads our cases, and thus insulates from First Amendment scrutiny California's prohibition – in the guise of a professional regulation – of politically unpopular expression.”
Since California passed its ban on reparative therapy for minors, New Jersey has followed suit, and several other states are considering a similar ban.