Article | Family Law
A Proposed Cure: More Expansive Conversion Therapy Legislation and the Limits of Parental Rights
by Nicole A. Meier*
From Vol. 93, No. 2 (January 2020)
93 S. Cal. L. Rev. 345 (2020)
Keywords: Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (“SOCE”), Conversion Therapy, Parental Rights
This Note will propose and examine the constitutional bounds of more expansive legislation that targets not just SOCE at the hands of state-licensed mental healthcare providers, but also at the hands of unlicensed providers—specifically religious leaders. Though more expansive legislation would likely trigger constitutional objections under the First Amendment, particularly with respect to free speech and free exercise rights, this Note will examine the constitutionality of this proposed legislation through the lens of parental rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
This Note will proceed in the following order: Part I will examine the history and nature of SOCE, detail the current position of mainstream mental health professional associations regarding SOCE, and analyze current SOCE legislation and its deficiencies. Part II will propose more expansive SOCE legislation and establish that such legislation would not unconstitutionally infringe upon parental rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Part III will analyze the limits that the Supreme Court has hitherto placed on parental rights, taking the defined limits of these rights in light of claims of religious freedom into special consideration. Parts IV and V will respond to anticipated critiques of the proposed legislation, focusing on the potential ease with which the legislation may be evaded and the ramifications that the legislation may have with respect to parental rights. Finally, Part VI will provide several policy justifications for the proposed legislation.
*. Senior Editor, Southern California Law Review, Volume 93; J.D. Candidate 2020, University of Southern California Gould School of Law; B.A. Philosophy 2016, Santa Clara University. Thank you to my parents, Josh and Barbara, for all of their encouragement and support. In addition, thank you to Professor Camille Gear Rich for encouraging me to pursue this topic and for her guidance during the drafting of this Note, and to Professor Scott Altman for his insight during the editing process. Finally, thank you to the talented Southern California Law Review editors for their excellent work.