Thursday, July 21, 2022

11th Circuit Denies En Banc Review In Conversion Therapy Case

In Otto v. City of Boca Raton, Florida, (11th Cir., July 20, 2022), the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, by a vote of 7-4,, denied an en banc rehearing in a case in which a panel decision of the court struck down a conversion therapy ban.  (See prior posting). Concurring and dissenting opinions spanning 110 pages accompanied the brief order denying review. Judge Grant, joined by Judges Branch and Lagoa filed an opinion concurring in the denial, saying in part:

The perspective enforced by these local policies is extremely popular in many communities. And the speech barred by these ordinances is rejected by many as wrong, and even dangerous. But the First Amendment applies even to—especially to—speech that is widely unpopular....

Today’s dissenters decry the result of the panel decision—namely, that speech they consider harmful is (or may be) constitutionally protected. But to reach their preferred outcomes, they ask us to ignore settled First Amendment law

Judge Jordan joined by Judge Wilson, and joined in part by Judges Rosenbaum and Pryor, said in part:

[T]he panel majority in this preliminary injunction appeal ignored the clear error standard of review—never acknowledging or applying it —and substituted its own factual findings for those of the district court on important issues.

Judge Rosenbaum joined by Judge Pryor filed a dissenting opinion, saying in part

By incorrectly labeling talk therapy mental-healthcare treatments as mere “conversation” and “not medical at all,” the panel opinion necessarily subjects to First Amendment strict scrutiny all government regulations that require licensed mental-healthcare professionals to comply with the governing substantive standard of care in administering talk therapy. And that scrutiny rings the death knell for any such regulation.