Pickup v. Brown

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 08-29-2013
  • Case #: 12-17681; 13-15023
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski; Circuit Judge Christen
  • Full Text Opinion

California’s Senate Bill 1172, which bans mental health providers from using “sexual orientation change efforts” on minors, is not unconstitutional because it is not vague or overbroad, it does not infringe on parents’ fundamental rights, and it does not violate First Amendment free speech rights.

The California legislature enacted Senate Bill 1172 (“SB 1172”), which banned mental health professionals from using “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE”) on minors. Two groups of plaintiffs sought court orders to enjoin this law on First Amendment and other constitutional grounds. The district court denied preliminary relief in one case, and granted a preliminary injunction in the other. The losing parties both appealed. The Ninth Circuit discussed the historical use of SOCE, which has ranged from aggressive “aversive treatments” to verbally “reframing [a person’s] desires.” The panel held that Senate Bill 1172 regulated conduct and only incidentally impacted speech, and thus did not require heightened scrutiny. The panel also found that the legislature reasonably relied on the “well documented, prevailing opinion” of medical professionals that SOCE was ineffective and posed a risk of serious harm to patients. The panel highlighted the increased danger these treatments posed to minors and ultimately held that Senate Bill 1172 was rationally related to the state’s legitimate purpose of protecting these patients. Further, the panel rejected the argument that SB 1172 implicated the right to freedom of association because the “therapist-client relationship does not ‘implicate the fundamental rights associated with…close-knit relationships.’” Finally, the panel denied the plaintiffs’ other constitutional claims, holding that SB 1172 was neither vague nor overbroad, nor did it infringe on parents’ fundamental rights. REVERSED; AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search