Wednesday, November 6, 2019

City of Tampa Appeals Conversion Therapy Ruling

On October 4, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Judge William F. Jung struck down Tampa's ban on juvenile conversion therapy. Last Thursday, October 31, the City of Tampa filed a notice of appeal. Plaintiffs in this case are represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Judge Jung's ruling in this case was based solely on preemption. According to the judge, the regulation of healthcare is the exclusive province of the state. The judge ruled explicitly that religious freedom and freedom of speech were irrelevant. This is an important case because it has the potential to affect other municipal bans throughout Florida.

In 1973 Florida's voters approved the Municipal Home Rule Powers Act. The exceptions to municipal home rule are taxes and measures that are “expressly” preempted. Otherwise, municipalities throughout the State of Florida are free to enact ordinances as long as they are not contrary to Florida law. Judge Jung's ruling seems to be contrary to the will of the voters and established Florida law.

According to Liberty Counsel:
Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “We are confident the court of appeals will uphold Judge Jung’s well-reasoned decision that the city has no business intruding in counseling sessions between families and licensed professionals. In fact, this appeal presents the opportunity for an even more widespread decision to help children throughout the state and the nation,” said Staver.
The case now moves to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. It will be heard by a randomly selected panel of three judges.

Of the 12 active judges, three were appointed by Trump; four by Obama; one by G.W. Bush, two by Clinton, one by Ford (he's 90 yoa) and one by G.H.W. Bush. However, this is the kind of case that defies the typical ideological divide. Three of those judges are seeking senior status pending confirmation of their replacements. Trump has two nominees pending. One seems relatively normal. The other is a piece of work.

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