The Eleventh Circuit, in a significant decision sure to be very controversial, has struck down a ban on so-called "conversion therapy," a contemptible practice advanced by bigoted crackpots.

/2 The Eleventh Circuit struck the conversion therapy ban down under the First Amendment. This is not a new theory; the Ninth Circuit addressed and rejected a similar attack in 2013.…
/3 The LEGAL controversy here -- as opposed to the controversy about bigotry and human decency -- revolves around the difference between regulating speech and regulating conduct, and whether there is a "professional speech" exception to the First Amendment.
/4 Different ideological groups can find themselves on different sides of this question in different cases. Note, for example, the cases about stupid "doctors can't ask about guns" laws, which the same court struck down for the same reasons.…
/5 This appears to be a circuit split on an important issue, so it would surprise me to see the matter go to the Supreme Court. I don’t think the current court (or any court of this century) would support a broad “professional speech” exception.
/6 But the "sides" are complicated. "Conservatives" favor intrusive restrictions on doctor speech, and compelled speech, in the case of abortion. "Liberals" don't. So the ideological approach to a "professional speech" category is tangled up.
/7 On the other hand sometimes the compelled speech is PRO-abortion rights. See, for instance, the Ninth Circuit weaving its way through the suggestion that a "professional speech" category justified dictating speech to anti-abortion health clinics.…
/8 The bottom line: any suggestion that the 11th Circuit made up the ruling out of nowhere in a sudden surge of conservative craziness is wrong. Conversion therapy is dangerous and morally reprehensible but First Amendment challenges to bans on it are plausible under the law.
/9 So, in watching for coverage of this, distinguish between what people believe the law should be and analysis of what it is, and don't confuse them. Also, bear in mind that the First Amendment routinely protects absolutely contemptible speech.

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