Otto v. City of Boca Raton, No. 19-10604 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Boca Raton and Palm Beach County's ordinances prohibiting therapists from engaging in counseling or any therapy with a goal of changing a minor's sexual orientation, reducing a minor's sexual or romantic attractions (at least to others of the same gender or sex), or changing a minor's gender identity or expression violates the First Amendment.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded for entry of a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the ordinances. The court held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the challenged sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based and viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny. The court stated that the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech. The court also held that plaintiffs will likely suffer irreparable injury, and that neither the government nor the public has any legitimate interest in enforcing an unconstitutional ordinance. Finally, the court rejected plaintiffs' claim that the ordinances are ultra vires.