SCOTUS Declines to Hear Challenge to State’s Ban

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Challenge to State's Ban

( – Conversion therapy is incredibly controversial. For decades, it has been used to try to cure members of the LGBTQ community. Medical professionals have said the therapy is incredibly damaging. Washington state banned the practice. The Supreme Court recently refused to hear a challenge to the law.

Washington Conversion Therapy Ban

In 2018, Washington enacted a ban on conversion therapy. Under the law, healthcare providers are not allowed to try to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of someone under the age of 18. The prohibition subjects healthcare professionals to fines or other forms of discipline, including possible license revocation. More than 20 US states have prohibited conversion therapy.

Challenge to Law

Tacoma therapist Brian Tingley sued the state. He argued the law was akin to censorship and violated his First Amendment rights. He also claimed the law violated the Supreme Court decision that California wasn’t allowed to require religious pregnancy centers to give women information on how to obtain an abortion.

Last year, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state did not violate the Constitution when it enacted the ban to protect the “physical and psychological well-being” of kids.

Circuit Judge Ronald Gould wrote the opinion and said that Washington wasn’t alone in passing a ban. Like other states, the legislature decided that healthcare professionals should not say things to kids like they are “the abomination we had heard about in Sunday school.” He went on to say that the state doesn’t lose the power to impose regulations on healthcare providers just because the “treatments are implemented through speech rather than through scalpel.”

The judge also pointed out that Washington’s law only prohibited the therapist from using conversion therapy on kids. He was still allowed to practice on adults, talk to the public about the practice, and express his own personal beliefs to his patients.

Supreme Court Refuses Case

On December 11, the Supreme Court of the US issued an order rejecting an appeal of the 9th Circuit ruling. Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented. Thomas wrote a dissent and said he believed Tingley’s suit deserved to be heard by the high court.

In a separate dissent. Justice Alito said that the “case presents a question of national importance” and that “20 states and [Washington DC] have adopted laws prohibiting or restricting […] conversion therapy.” The justice claimed it was “beyond dispute” that the “laws restrict speech.”

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