US Ninth Circuit upholds Washington state ban on conversion therapy for minors
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US Ninth Circuit upholds Washington state ban on conversion therapy for minors

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Tuesday unanimously upheld Washington’s state ban on conversion therapy for children under 18. The three-judge panel rejected therapist Brian Tingley’s claim that the law undermined his free speech and free exercise rights under the First Amendment.

Judge Ronald M. Gould wrote the opinion of the court that affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Tingley’s claim. The court compared the case to a nearly identical California law upheld in the case of Pickup v. Brown. In that case, the court ruled that the state ban on conversion therapy regulated conduct, not speech, and therefore did not violate the First Amendment.

In this case, the court ruled that the Washington legislature acted rationally when it decided to protect the physical and psychological well-being of its minors by preventing state-licensed health care providers from practicing conversion therapy. The court also ruled that the law was neutral and targeted at preventing harms associated with conversion therapy in addition to not targeting religious exercise. After the court reviewed legal precedent, it concluded that there is a well-established tradition of constitutional regulations on the practice of medical treatments.

In June, President Joe Biden signed an executive order which encouraged the Federal Trade Commission “to consider whether so-called conversion therapy constitutes an unfair or deceptive act or practice, and to issue such consumer warnings or notices as may be appropriate.”