Bench Memos

California’s Ban on “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” for Minors Put on Hold

Yesterday, federal Judge William B. Shubb of the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction preventing SB 1172 from going into effect on January 1.  The law would prohibit all mental-health professionals registered or licensed by the state from offering “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) to minors.  Although two of the plaintiffs proffered religious freedom as a ground for challenging the statute, Judge Shubb focused on the therapists’ freedom of speech.  While clinical practice in the mental health professions is generally understood to be conduct the state may regulate, much of what passes under the rubric of SOCE is “talk therapy,” and is grounded in the expression by clinicians, and the adoption by patients, of an opinion about the latter’s same-sex attraction.  As a matter of freedom of speech, therefore, the challenge merited the application of strict scrutiny to the statute.

Judge Shubb found that the statute was not viewpoint-neutral (quite the contrary, it expresses a strong viewpoint on the part of the legislature and targets another viewpoint for suppression), that the state’s conviction that SOCE may cause harm to minors was uncertain and unsupported by scientific studies to date, that the law was underinclusive (targeting only some but not all who may engage in SOCE), and that all things considered, the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits and would be harmed in their ability to speak freely in their professions in the meantime.  Hence he enjoined the enforcement of the statute, pending further proceedings.  The opinion and order in Welch v. Brown can be found here–a good day’s work for freedom, and against the regnant liberal ideology in California.

Most Popular

Education

Husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein Admits to Helping Well-Connected Applicants Gain Admission to University of California: ‘No One Ever Told Me It Was Wrong’

The husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) admitted on Thursday to sending an inappropriate letter identified in a state audit that appeared to help an applicant to the University of California, Berkeley, get accepted to the school. The California State Auditor issued a scathing report on Tuesday ... Read More
Education

Husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein Admits to Helping Well-Connected Applicants Gain Admission to University of California: ‘No One Ever Told Me It Was Wrong’

The husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) admitted on Thursday to sending an inappropriate letter identified in a state audit that appeared to help an applicant to the University of California, Berkeley, get accepted to the school. The California State Auditor issued a scathing report on Tuesday ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More
Law & the Courts

No, the Democrats Won’t Pack the Court

For many progressive opinion-makers, the only way to save the Supreme Court is to destroy it.   They believe the best response to the Republican-held Senate confirming a Trump nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court is to pack the Court if Democrats win in November. Holding out the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

No, the Democrats Won’t Pack the Court

For many progressive opinion-makers, the only way to save the Supreme Court is to destroy it.   They believe the best response to the Republican-held Senate confirming a Trump nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court is to pack the Court if Democrats win in November. Holding out the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do You Want 51 or 52 States Next Year?

“The prospects of statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have never been greater, but many significant obstacles loom,” The Hill declares. The Constitution declares, “new States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do You Want 51 or 52 States Next Year?

“The prospects of statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have never been greater, but many significant obstacles loom,” The Hill declares. The Constitution declares, “new States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction ... Read More