A case being heard today in Florida could give an idea of what a President Trump-influenced judicial branch will mean.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, will be arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit involving two local municipalities' ban on change counsel.
"The good news," he says, "is we are before a panel of three judges, two of which have been nominated and thus confirmed under President Donald Trump." Staver calls those two "originalists" and says he is looking forward to the outcome of the case.
He believes it could be "a groundbreaking case," one that may even make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and strike down counseling bans across the country.
So far, 80 cities and states have passed laws banning people from receiving Christian counseling to fight unwanted same-gender attractions or dysphoric gender identity.
"Sometimes when you hear about counseling bans, you hear the words 'conversion therapy,' but it's not a term used within the counseling world," says Staver. "It's only a politically-motivated term because people try to conjure up in your mind all kinds of ideas of what that might be [when] in fact, what happens in the counseling room is just simple talk."
According to Staver, the undisputed record evidence in the case, to which all the parties agreed, is that his clients, the counselors, communicate only by speech.
"They only communicate based upon the client's wish and their self-determined objective, which they have a right to ultimately set as a client," he continues. "That's really what happens, and the government has no business dictating the content or certainly the viewpoint of what the client can hear and what the counselors can say based upon the client's request. That's indeed what these laws do."
Staver calls that dangerous and a clear violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
"What's at issue here is speech, and the kind of speech is only speech that has a goal to change someone's unwanted same-sex attractions, romantic attractions, behavior, or gender conflicts -- that is it," he says.
The Liberty Counsel founder points out that anything to affirm or promote same-sex attractions or gender identity changes is allowed, but if the client wants to change, "that's banned."