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3:13-cv-06629 #26

3:13-cv-06629 #26

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Published by Equality Case Files
Doc 26 - Order staying case
Doc 26 - Order staying case

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Published by: Equality Case Files on Apr 19, 2014
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04/19/2014

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U
NITED
S
TATES
D
ISTRICT
C
OURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
(609) 989-2182
 
CHAMBERS OF
FREDA L. WOLFSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
 
Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
402
 East State Street Trenton, New Jersey
08608
 
LETTER ORDER
March 28, 2014 Demetrios K. Stratis, Esq. Law Office of Demetrios K. Stratis, LLC 10-04 River Road Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 201-794-6200 Susan Marie Scott Office of the NJ Attorney General RJ Hughes Justice Complex PO Box 112 Trenton, NJ 08625 (609) 777-3442 Andrew Bayer Gluck Walrath, LLP 428 Riverview Plaza Trenton, NJ 08611 (609) 278-3900
RE: Doe,
et al.
v. Chris Christie
.
 Civil Action No.: 13-6629 (FLW/LHG)
Dear Litigants: In the instant matter, Plaintiffs, John Doe, by and through Jack Doe and Jane Doe, Jack Doe individually, and Jane Doe individually (collectively,
Plaintiffs
) have filed a Complaint against Defendant Governor Chris Christie, in his official capacity (
Defendant
), as well as a motion for a preliminary injunction.
1
 Plaintiffs
 motion seeks to enjoin the operation of Assembly Bill Number A3371, codified at N.J. Stat. Ann. 45:1-54 to -55 (
A3371
), which was signed into law and became effective on August 19, 2013. In brief, A3371 prohibits New Jersey
1
 Also pending before the Court is a motion for leave to intervene filed by Garden State Equality, which Plaintiffs oppose.
Case 3:13-cv-06629-FLW-LHG Document 26 Filed 03/28/14 Page 1 of 3 PageID: 1060
 
 2 licensed counselors from engaging in
sexual orientation change efforts
 (
SOCE
) with minors. Plaintiff John Doe is a minor child, and Jack and Jane Doe are his parents, who wish for John Doe to obtain SOCE counseling. In that connection, Plaintiffs contend that A3371 violates the First Amendment because it (i) constitutes impermissible viewpoint and content-based discrimination, (ii) violates Plaintiff 
s right to receive information under the First Amendment, and (iii) infringes on Plaintiffs
 free exercise of religion. Plaintiffs further argue that A3371 violates (i) Plaintiffs
 
hybrid rights
 to the free exercise of religion and right to receive information and direct the upbringing of their child, as well as (ii) Plaintiffs Jack and Jane Doe
s fundamental parental rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. On these grounds, Plaintiffs argue that, weighing the relevant factors, entry of a preliminary injunction is appropriate. Defendant and proposed-intervenor Garden State Equality oppose Plaintiff 
s request for preliminary injunctive relief. As the parties are well aware, the Court addressed certain similar claims challenging the constitutionality of A3371 in an Opinion and Order dated November 8, 2013.
See King v. Christie
, Civ. No. 13-5038, Dkt. No. 57.
2
 In that decision, I rejected the First Amendment free speech and free exercise challenges to A3371 that were brought on behalf of therapists and counselors engaged in SOCE. In
 King 
, I also addressed a challenge brought by the therapists on  behalf of minor children and their parents, concluding that the
 King 
 plaintiffs lacked third-party standing to raise such a claim. Here, Plaintiffs, as a minor child and parents of that child, raise similar free speech and free exercise challenges. Given my conclusion in
 King
that A3371 is a generally applicable law that governs conduct and not speech, I see no reason why Plaintiffs
 free speech and free exercise challenges in the present matter should not also be rejected on the same basis. There are additional aspects of Plaintiffs
 challenge here that were not raised in the  previous matter, which concern the
hybrid rights
 of a minor child and/or his parents to obtain the mental health treatment of his or their choice, as well as the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their minor child. Those issues, however, were addressed by the Ninth Circuit in
 Pickup v. Brown
, 728 F.3d 1042 (9th Cir. 2013),
 amended by
 740 F.3d. 1208 (9th Cir. 2014), which held, with respect to California
s virtually identical statute, that prohibiting the practice of SOCE on minors did not violate the minor 
s or parents
 rights. 740. F.3d at 1235-36. The Ninth Circuit rejected a petition for
en banc
 review earlier this year, and the parties in that matter subsequently filed a petition for
certiorari
 with the United States Supreme Court, which is currently being briefed.
See
 http://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/ docketfiles/13-949.htm (last visited March 27, 2014). In light of my resolution of certain similar issues in my November 8, 2013 Opinion, the identity of other issues between
 Pickup
 and the instant matter, and the posture of the
 Pickup
 case, I find it prudent and in the interest of judicial economy to STAY the instant matter pending a
2
 Indeed, counsel for all parties in this matter also appeared in that prior case, and Plaintiffs
’ counsel has indicated that,
in addition to the papers filed in connection with the  preliminary injunction motion, Plaintiffs also intend to rely on their arguments that were raised in the prior matter.
Case 3:13-cv-06629-FLW-LHG Document 26 Filed 03/28/14 Page 2 of 3 PageID: 1061

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