Supremes asked to rule on legislative ban on speech by counselors

A state order mandating that counselors dealing with patients on issues of sexuality must promote same-sex relationships violates the First Amendment and the fundamental principle of mental health counseling, charges a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“[New Jersey law] limits the communication a professional can provide to a consenting client, despite the client’s objectives or therapeutic goals,” according to the document filed by Liberty Counsel, which has been arguing on behalf of the speech rights of both counselors and patients since the case began.

The brief comes in support of a request that the U.S. Supreme Court step in and affirm the First Amendment, the rights of patients to choose their own counseling goals and to resolve current conflicts in lower court decisions.

“This court’s review is imperative to protect the fundamental right of licensed counselors offering or individuals seeking mental health counseling to make determinations concerning the most elementary freedom – the right to self-determination,” Liberty Counsel Founder Mat Staver said.

The brief states that despite “the client’s objectives in counseling concerning his unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity, once that subject is presented to a licensed professional, the services that professional is able to render immediately becomes severely restricted to only one message – that of the state’s acceptance, support, and encouragement of such same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.”

“The fundamental principle of mental health counseling is that the client is able to set the objectives and direction of his counseling, yet [New Jersey] impairs and indeed eliminates the ability of clients in New Jersey to set such a direction if the desired objective is change,” the brief charges.

The issue arose when first California, followed by New Jersey, Michigan and Iowa, proposed legislation that essentially requires all counselors to say only positive things about same-sex affinities if they are counseling minors on the subject.

WND reported last year when the high court declined to take up the issue in California.

The Supreme Court declined the case even despite a powerful dissent from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which upheld the state censorship.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in dissent: “May California remove from the First Amendment’s ambit the speech of certain professionals when the state disfavors its content or its purpose? – The Supreme Court has definitely and unquestionably said, ‘No.’ It is no longer within our discretion to disagree.”

Written by BOB UNRUH
Read more at WND

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