Thursday, June 17, 2021

4th Circuit: Governor and Attorney General Were Wrong Defendants In Challenge To Maryland Conversion Therapy Ban

In Doyle v. Hogan, (4th Cir., June 15, 2021), plaintiffs raised free speech and free exercise of religion challenges to Maryland's ban on mental health professionals engaging in conversion therapy with minors. The district court had held that the ban did not violate free speech or free exercise protections. (See prior posting.) The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that it could not reach the "interesting First Amendment issues" that are raised because defendants-- the Governor and Attorney General of Maryland-- have 11th Amendment immunity from suit. Neither defendant has the necessary connection to enforcing the statute required to invoke the immunity exception set out in Ex parte Young. So the court vacated the district court's 1st Amendment rulings and remanded the case for the district court to decide whether it will permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. In a press release, Liberty Counsel announced that it will seek to file an amended complaint  to list the State Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists as a defendant.