Abortion and same-sex marriage aren’t the only issues on the line before a re-aligned Supreme Court.
That’s the alarm sounded by ThinkProgress, a progressive public-policy site, after the Court’s anti-abortion ruling last week.
Even more ominous, conservative legal analysts are gleefully agreeing.
The Court’s 5-4 ruling last week in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra sided with free speech over abortion rights, arguing that the state has limits on its ability to regulate the professional speech of those working at the centers.
It asserted free-speech protections for crisis pregnancy centers on messages with which they disagree. The majority struck down a California law because it compelled anti-abortion advocates to “speak a particular message.”
In other words, the Court protected anti-choice centers that advocate intimidate patients with anti-abortion messages. It’s OK, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority, because it’s just a viewpoint. To do otherwise would be “viewpoint discrimination,” the conservative justice said.
So how does that relate to LGBTQ rights?
Religious groups can thus use “viewpoint discrimination” in their legal opposition to conversion therapy bans. So much for the LGBTQ youth tortured in a conversion therapy program. The free speech rights of licensed medical professionals trump the rights of patients.
Anti-LGBTQ advocates are hopeful.
“This is a significant victory for free speech, and not only for pregnancy-care centers,” writes Curtis Schube, legal counsel for the Pennsylvania Family Policy Institute, for the Ruth Center, a Catholic conservative and anti-LGTBQ group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The ‘social justice’ movement threatens many professionals in the exercise of their judgment and expertise,” Schube said. “This Supreme Court ruling has created broad protections for a significant number of Americans who hold professional licenses.”
ThinkProgress reports that the Liberty Counsel, another anti-LGBTQ group, is also touting the NIFLA ruling. Liberty’s Mat Staver says the NIFLA ruling “means the handwriting is on the wall” for laws and ordinances banning conversion therapy.
The result could be devastating, both legally and emotionally.
Medical and psychiatric organizations have condemned conversion therapy. Thirteen states, the District of Columbia and a number of municipalities and counties have banned the practice among licensed mental-health practitioners.
Just as the United Kingdom and Canada ban it as torture, here in the States, the Republican Party’s state platforms endorse it.
ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford warns that this Supreme Court determination is ominous.
“Were the Supreme Court to reverse these bans, it would give parents across the country free reign to subject their children to a shame-based therapy that tries to convince them to reject an essential part of their identity.”