The Supreme Court has refused to take up a challenge to a state law in Washington, which is similar to an Anchorage ordinance that prohibits therapists from using any form of so-called “conversion therapy” with their minor-aged clients.
Three of the more conservative justices dissented from the decision to leave the matter in the hands of Washington State, which has Senate Bill 5722, prohibiting counseling a minor about the hazards or realities of alternate sexual identities or sexual activities that may bring harm.
Brian Tingley, a marriage and family counselor, went to court in 2021 to challenge the 2018 law, saying it violates his First Amendment rights because it curtails his ability to speak freely to young people about issues relating to gender identity or sexual attraction to the same sex.
In 2020, the Anchorage Assembly passed a similar measure. In Anchorage, it’s only lawful to encourage, assist, medicate, and surgically alter youth in order to meet their wishes to become something they are not.
Any licensed therapist in Anchorage who discourages transgenderism or warns of its risks can be charged; violating the ordinance subjects a counselor to a $500 fine per instance.
Anchorage’s ordinance was passed with the guidance of a nonprofit that specializes in grooming children into sexual identities of various sorts — the Trevor Project, a controversial organization founded by Sam Brinton, the former Biden White House Energy Department appointee who has been charged with stealing women’s luggage.
The Washington district court dismissed Tingley’s lawsuit. He appealed to the 9th Circuit, where he was also denied.
Tingley, with 12 states and several nonprofit backing him, appealed to the Supreme Court in March, which has considered the case since September.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote dissents from the court’s denial of review.
Thomas said government officials cannot dictate “what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Washington’s law says “licensed counselors cannot voice anything other than the state-approved opinion on minors with gender dysphoria without facing punishment,” Thomas wrote, adding that he had no doubt that the basic issue of the free speech of counselors would “come before the court again,” and “When it does, the Court should do what it should have done here: grant certiorari to consider what the First Amendment requires.”
Justice Alito wrote that it is “beyond dispute that these laws restrict speech, and all restrictions on speech merit careful scrutiny.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that he, too, would have granted Tingley’s petition.
Alliance Defending Freedom took up the case on behalf of Tingley, a licensed counselor who has been practicing in Washington State for more than 20 years.
“During that time, he has talked with adults, couples, teenagers, and children to help them identify and achieve the goals that they set for themselves, consistent with their own moral values and religious beliefs. Under Brian’s guidance, his clients have pursued meaningful and positive changes in their lives. But now, Brian’s practice is in jeopardy,” the Alliance said.
“In 2018, Washington passed a law censoring private conversations between counselors and their clients. The law stipulates that if a client wanted to undergo a gender transition, the counselor and client can speak about anything. But if a client wanted to become more comfortable with her biological sex or talk through the emotionally and medically difficult process of de-transitioning, counselors like Brian would be prohibited from having those conversations. Simply by working with clients to achieve the goals they set for themselves, Brian faces fines of up to $5,000 per violation, suspension from practice, and losing his license and livelihood,” Alliance Defending Freedom said.
“But the government doesn’t get to regulate counselors’ speech. This law is a clear violation of both freedom of speech and religious freedom, in a very private setting. That’s why ADF filed a lawsuit on Brian’s behalf challenging Washington State’s unconstitutional law,” the group said.
Evidently, in America in 2023, the government does indeed get to regulate counselors’ speech, however, when it comes to transgenderism and same-sex activity for youth.