Monday, September 23, 2019

Chris Doyle's conversion therapy case dismissed - Liberty Counsel loses again

Christopher Doyle
On Friday, United States District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow dismissed the complaint in Doyle v. Hogan. In the action Christopher Doyle, a licensed counselor, challenged Maryland's ban on conversion therapy for minors. Doyle was represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The lead attorney for Doyle was Liberty Counsel's Horatio Gabriel Mihet.

In short strokes:
  • Free Speech: The judge ruled that Maryland is regulating professional conduct. The fact that the conduct is speech does not mean that the state is impermissibly violating Doyle's First Amendment rights.
  • Free Exercise: Doyle remains free to believe anything that he chooses to believe and to practice his religion in accordance with those beliefs.
  • Vagueness: Liberty Counsel (possibly via Mad Mat Staver, the hate group leader) attempted to claim that the law was impermissibly vague because it did not separate aversive, or coercive, conversion therapy from more moderate efforts. The judge ruled that the law banned all forms of conversion therapy which is neither vague nor ambiguous.
Liberty Counsel has not issued a press release. Typically they appeal such losses. That would be the Fourth Circuit which is located in Richmond, VA. The Court has a diversity of justices including six Obama appointees and three via Trump. One of Trump's appointments, Allison Jones Rushing, is particularly controversial. Rushing had an association with the hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom.

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