Clarence Thomas, conversion therapy, state ban, violate, first amendment

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Argues Proposed State Bans On Conversion Therapy Violate First Amendment

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argued that state bans on conversion therapy for minors violate First Amendment rights.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that state bans on conversion therapy aimed at minors may violate First Amendment rights. Justice Samuel Alito has supported Thomas’ claim, Business Insider reports.

The Supreme Court published the thoughts of both Thomas and Alito on Dec. 11 in announcing its decision to bypass hearing a case brought before the justices by conversion therapist Brian Tingley, who believes a person’s sex is “a gift from God, integral to our very being” and assists minors suffering from gender dysphoria who “want to become comfortable with their biological sex” through talk therapy. The state of Washington opposes Tingley’s belief and asserted that it should “protect its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by” conversion experts, according to Supreme Court documents.

The ban would require licensed counselors like Tingley to comply with state laws, making conversion therapy illegal and leaving perpetrators open to punishment. “Under SB 5722, licensed counselors cannot voice anything other than the state-approved opinion on minors with gender dysphoria without facing punishment,” Justice Thomas wrote. “The Ninth Circuit set a troubling precedent by condoning this regime.”

Alito agreed, writing, “It is beyond dispute that these laws restrict speech, and all restrictions on speech merit careful scrutiny,” in a separately published article.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was said to be open to hearing the case. But the court failed to meet the minimum requirement of four justices in order to have it reviewed, so Washington’s ban on conversion therapy remains in place. According to Business Insider, Judge Ronald Gould vehemently disagreed with the assertion made by Justices Thomas and Alito.

“Washington’s licensing scheme for health care providers, which disciplines them for practicing conversion therapy on minors, does not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments,” Gould wrote. “States do not lose the power to regulate the safety of medical treatments performed under the authority of a state license merely because those treatments are implemented through speech rather than through scalpel.”

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