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High Court, in declining to weigh conversion therapy ban, allows law to stand

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to hear a case challenging Washington state's ban on conversion therapy of minors.
Kevin Dietsch
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The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to hear a case challenging Washington state's ban on conversion therapy of minors.

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to hear a case challenging Washington state's ban on conversion therapy of minors. In doing so, the court left standing a lower court decision that upheld the state's ban on a therapy that the American Medical Association says "is not based on medical and scientific evidence."

The Washington passed law, enacted in 2018, allows the state to revoke the licenses of therapists who try to change a minor's sexual orientation. Brian Tingley, a family counselor and advocate for conversion therapy, challenged the law in court, represented by the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom. He claimed that the law violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

Two lower courts upheld the law.

The court's decision not to hear the case Monday included no reasons, as is standard when it denies a case. But, Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented from the order, and would have heard the case.

In his dissent, Thomas wrote, "Although the Court declines to take this particular case, I have no doubt that the issue it presents will come before the Court again. When it does, the Court should do what it should have done here," take the case "to consider what the First Amendment requires."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.
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