Wednesday, August 24, 2016

9th Circuit: California Reparative Therapy Ban OK Under 1st Amendment Religion Clauses

In Welch v. Brown, (9th Cir., Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected facial free exercise and Establishment Clause challenges to California's ban on state-licensed mental health professionals providing “sexual orientation change efforts” for patients under 18.  The court concluded that the law does not excessively entangle the state with religion because it only applies within the confines of the counselor-client relationship. The state conceded that the law does not apply to clergy in their roles as pastoral counselors providing religious counseling to congregants. The court also rejected the contention that the law has the primary effect of inhibiting religion, saying in part:
although the scientific evidence considered by the legislature noted that some persons seek SOCE for religious reasons, the documents also stressed that persons seek SOCE for many secular reasons.
[Thanks to How Appealing for the lead.]