The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a New Jersey law banning so-called gay conversion therapy.
The decision leaves in place a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding a lower court’s decision that the law is constitutional.
Religious conservatives—including two counselors, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association of Christian Counselors—had challenged the law as violating their First Amendment free-speech and religious rights.
The conservative Christian legal advocacy organization Liberty Counsel brought the challenge on behalf of the counselors and groups.
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Signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in August 2013, the New Jersey law bans counselors from trying to “convert” gay minors into heterosexuals. Only one other state, California, has successfully banned the practice.
The Roberts Court last summer rejected a similar challenge to the California law, leaving in place a federal appeals court decision upholding the California law. In April, President Obama called for an end to the practice but did not go so far as to call for federal legislation banning the practice.
A 2009 report by the American Psychological Association looked at 83 peer-reviewed studies conducted between 1960 and 2007 and found no legitimate evidence that “conversion therapy” was effective.
The research showed that most studies on the subject had serious methodological problems, none were based on credible scientific theory, and many were based on theories that could never be scientifically evaluated.