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California’s ban on LGBT “conversion therapy” possibly headed to Supreme Court

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

United States Court of Appeals Ninth CircuitThe Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has put its ruling upholding California’s ban on so-called LGBT “conversion” therapy for minors on hold after a request was filed by Liberty Counsel, who brought the challenge to the law. The group requested the order pending the filing of its request to the Supreme Court to review the ban:

A federal appeals court agreed Monday to put on hold a ruling in favor of a California law that bans licensed therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave opponents of the ban 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit upheld the law in August and refused last month to hear another challenge. Liberty Counsel, a religious rights group, then asked the court to block enforcement of the law pending an appeal to the high court.

The 90-day clock started last week, when the Ninth Circuit declined to rehear the challenge en banc, with a panel of 11 appeals court judges. Three of the judges on that court filed a dissent, arguing essentially that the ban is a regulation of speech, not conduct, and that it should be subject to heightened review as it implicates the First Amendment, whether or not the appeals court ultimately would have sided with the challengers to the law on the merits.

If the Supreme Court were to accept the case for review, it would be heard in the Term that begins in October of this year, at the earliest. The Court is out of session until late February, and they usually finish oral arguments by April.

A challenge to a similar law in New Jersey is pending before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.


  • 1. sfbob  |  February 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I'd be surprised if the Supreme Court were to grant cert on this case. They could of course, but I don't think it's likely.

  • 2. marvelmvs  |  February 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Yeah, since this is the first case on this issue to be appealed to The U.S. Supreme Court most likely they will let the issue sit for a while. If somehow the New Jersey ban is similarly challenged and the 3rd Circuit comes to a different result then we might see them take that case.

    For now, though the dissents from the denial of rehearing en banc are well argued I don't expect The U.S. Supreme Court will take it.

  • 3. Bruno71  |  February 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the 4 reactionary conservatives on the bench grant cert in the case.

  • 4. Zack12  |  February 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I could see that too. Scalia and Thomas in particular are scumbags of the highest order.
    Their dissents in Lawrence V Texas were used as part of the justification for making sodomya criminal offense in India again.

  • 5. FYoung  |  February 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    "Three of the judges on that court filed an appeal,"

    I assume you meant to say that the three judges filed a dissent, not an appeal.

  • 6. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Yeah whoops fixing now

  • 7. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    No idea why I did that, but thanks for letting me know!

  • 8. Jesse  |  February 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    I don't get it. How is this any different from parents being charged with abuse and/or neglect when they opt to not bring their child in for medical attention and turn to faith-based healing instead? For this reason alone (and I'm sure many others), I would think SCOTUS would deny cert.

  • 9. sfbob  |  February 4, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Can't say I disagree with you there. But we're kind of on the rational side of the table; the haters are on the other side. One could even argue that they continue to operate on the premise that minor children are private property and "nobody can tell me how to raise my children." When of course that just isn't so.

  • 10. Dr. Z  |  February 5, 2014 at 5:48 am

    And Scalia's son runs a "conversion" ministry.

  • 11. Jesse  |  February 5, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Would that be grounds for recusal?

  • 12. Jesse  |  February 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

    …At which point I would scream out a well-abused talking point of the haters, "But what about the children? Think of the children!" 😉

  • 13. Pat  |  February 4, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Any news about yesterday's VA hearing? I didnt hear much, except that the judge apparently promised a quick decision.
    How did the questioning go, otherwise?

  • 14. Colleen  |  February 5, 2014 at 12:29 am

    The only thing I've been able to find is the audio of the AFER phone press conference, which you can find on Towleroad here:
    In the comments there's a quick bit of information about things went from a man who was in the courtroom for the hearing. I don't know if the press wasn't allowed in the courtroom or what, but I can't find any journalism from the hearing itself. If someone finds a transcript, I'm dying to read it!

  • 15. Ragavendran  |  February 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Not a transcript, but more info than I could find in most news articles:

  • 16. Pat  |  February 5, 2014 at 2:42 am

    What does it mean, when the judge says we'll be hearing from her "SOON"? I mean, what's the typical delay between hearing and ruling in this court?
    It would be great to have statistics, like "the 20% slowest decisions took 6 months or more to be issued – The top 20% quickest decisions took 1 month or less to be issued". Any historical data on this? Or at least a rough idea?

  • 17. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The decision in Utah took 2 weeks, and the decision in Oklahoma took ten years, so there's unfortunately no way to know what "soon" means in that case. I'd think within a month but that's purely a guess based on nothing.

  • 18. Pat  |  February 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    What about the likely appeal? If the decision here is indeed issued this month, can we expect the appeal to the 4th circuit to be files, heard and decided by the end of this year, probably?

  • 19. Stefan  |  February 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    If they expedite it like they are in Utah, the appeals will likely be wrapped up in a matter of months.

  • 20. Ragavendran  |  February 5, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Based on the swift back-and-forth on procedural issues with the whole AG-reversal-thing in the past two weeks, I would say she'll rule in a matter of days. As one of my lawyer friends pointed out:

    "I expect a favorable ruling from both her and the Fourth. She'll have to write her ruling and I'm sure she'll want it to be thorough, etc. for appeal purposes. That will take a little while, however, she and her clerks may already have part of it written. I'd be surprised if it doesn't come out within the next few days. Though for a federal order several weeks would still be 'soon.'"

  • 21. mtnbill  |  February 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I wonder how much will rely on reasoning from the earlier cases–Utah, or Oklahoma, or Ohio for example. I don't expect a cut and paste, but there are only so many arguments one can make (on either side)

  • 22. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Virginia courts (both state and Federal) are noted (or notorious, depending on who wins and who loses the cases) for being 'fast'. Not 'rocket docket' 'fast', but quicker in issuing decisions than courts in almost all other jurisdictions.

    Doesn't really answer your question (especially the part about stats), but gives an indication that courts in Virginia are generally much quicker in deciding cases, so when a judge says (with emphasis) 'soon', I would expect a decision before the end of the month, and probably well before then.

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