Sometimes, victory is sweeter than we even realize. The recent major victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case (read our blog about it here) wasn’t just great for the free speech and conscience rights of pro-life pregnancy support centers. As incredible as that was, the impact of the Court’s decision goes much further. The opinion includes strong language affirming the speech rights of all kinds of “professionals” – including counselors who are coming under increasing attacks. It’s an exciting development that we did not expect to come out of this case, and we intend to capitalize on it!
Of particular significance, the Opinion leaves little doubt that the so-called “conversion therapy” bans we see popping up in states everywhere would be declared unconstitutional if challenged. These laws prohibit licensed counselors – many of whom are also ordained ministers – from counseling a child experiencing gender dysphoria or confusion to embrace his or her true biological gender, or to overcome or navigate through their unwanted same-sex attractions consistent with Biblical precepts about human sexuality. To understand just how outrageous these initiatives are, I encourage you to read for yourself a Virginia bill that was introduced this year. We worked hard to help defeat that bill by just one vote.
Here are just a few of the strong statements the Court made about “professional speech” in its majority opinion:
“As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals’ speech ‘pose[s] the inherent risk that the Government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.’”
“Throughout history, governments have ‘manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse’ to increase state power and suppress minorities: [citing as an example] In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse.”
“Further, when the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to ‘preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.’ Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields. Doctors and nurses might disagree about the ethics of assisted suicide or the benefits of medical marijuana; lawyers and marriage counselors might disagree about the prudence of prenuptial agreements or the wisdom of divorce;”
“‘[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market,’ and the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.”
“All that is required to make something a ‘profession,’ according to these courts, is that it involves personalized services and requires a professional license from the State. But that gives the States unfettered power to reduce a group’s First Amendment rights by simply imposing a licensing requirement. States cannot choose the protection that speech receives under the First Amendment, as that would give them a powerful tool to impose ‘invidious discrimination of disfavored subjects.’”
Others have picked up on this connection to conversion therapy bans, too. Read further commentary from the Ruth Institute and The Christian Post.
As more professions are increasingly being caught in the crossfire (or crosshairs) of the Gender Revolution on account of their faith-based convictions, and as too many men, women, and children are being sacrificed as pawns in its relentless ideological quest, this Opinion could not have come at a better time.