Desperate Attempt to Revive FL Counseling Ban

Dec 11, 2020

The City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County are seeking a rehearing either from the same three-judge panel or the full court of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which struck down laws that ban counselors from providing minor clients with help to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion. 

In the brief, the City and County attempt to make legal arguments out of that which the 11th Circuit has already rejected and found to be without factual or legal support. For example, they claim that SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) is harmful. Yet the City and County continues to ignore the actual study of scientific literature, the 2009 APA Report, that concludes there is no scientific evidence of harm from the talk therapy that professional counselors provide.

Liberty Counsel represents Dr. Robert Otto, LMFT and Dr. Julie Hamilton, LMFT and their minor clients who challenged the constitutionality of ordinances enacted by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County which prohibit minors from voluntary counseling from licensed professionals. 

In the 2-1 opinion by the 11th Circuit striking down the ordinances, Judge Grant found that the counseling restriction was both a viewpoint and content-based restriction and violated the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. 

The court also referred to its en banc (by all the 11th Circuit judges) decision in Wollschlaeger v. Governor, Fla., which struck down a Florida law that interfered with what doctors may say to the patients about guns. In that case, the 11th Circuit found the law violates the First Amendment. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a futile attempt by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County to argue with what the Court of Appeals has already rejected. The chances of having the Court of Appeals rehearing this case is about the same chance of winning the lottery. They need to understand that counselors and their clients have freedom in the counseling room and do not have to succumb to political censorship and agendas from government ideologues.” 

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