Counselors Seek Supreme Court's Protection

Dec 3, 2014

Washington, DC – Today Liberty Counsel filed its Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in King v. Christie, Liberty Counsel’s case on behalf of licensed mental health professionals who are providing, and families who are receiving, counseling to overcome their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.

The Third Circuit upheld New Jersey’s ban on change counseling, but its discussion of the law created a circuit split on the issue of the appropriate level of scrutiny applied to regulations of professional speech and also on the issue of whether counseling in this area constitutes speech at all. Liberty Counsel is asking the High Court to resolve those critical questions on the rights of licensed professionals.

As the Petition states, “[w]ithout proper guidance from this Court on the appropriate categorization of communications between counselor and client or doctor and patients, these professionals are constantly at risk of statutes, such as A3371, that seek to remove their communications from the requisite level of protection afforded by the First Amendment.” The idea is not sound that all speech by licensed professionals can be silenced simply by virtue of the individual holding a professional license. Professional licensing statutes do not give the state veto power of disfavored viewpoints and speech of licensed professionals. The First Amendment simply does not tolerate such overreach.

The Petition continues, “A3371 represents a gross intrusion into the sacrosanct area of the relationship between counselors and clients and doctors and patients. This relationship, and the therapeutic alliance that develops between counselor and client and doctor and patient, is one of the oldest and most protected in the nation’s history.”

“If counseling regarding change is banned today in New Jersey, tomorrow a different legislature with an opposite political agenda could ban affirmation and allow only counsel regarding change,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The state thwarts self-determination when it interferes with the counselor-client or doctor-patient relationship,” Staver concluded.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.


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